A quick take on Syracuse’s disappointing 96-76 blowout loss against Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon at a quiet Petersen Events Center on the Pitt campus:
WHAT HAPPENED: After a 10 day layoff with two ACC games postponed, Pittsburgh finished off a stunning season sweep of Syracuse. The Panthers, down by five at halftime, came out running the initial six minutes of the second half to go up 11 points and ballooned the lead to 15. Defensively, Pitt held SU to only a trio of three-point baskets the entire afternoon. Pittsburgh (7-2, 3-1) moved the ball well against the SU zone inside and out, in what was simply a defensive disaster for the ‘Cuse. The Panthers finished with 20 assists on their made baskets, scoring an unbelievable 64 points in the second half. It was the most total points a Pittsburgh team has ever scored against Syracuse.
ANALYSIS: Sure, Pittsburgh had not played since beating the Orange on Jan. 6, and it showed as they missed its first 10 shots and trailed by nine points, but from the second half on, it was all Pitt. Syracuse (7-4, 1-3) looked a step behind as the halftime lead quickly evaporated and the Panthers fast-break transition game took hold. Pitt’s Justin Champagnie was marvelous around the basket finishing with 24 points. Alan Griffin, despite not feeling 100 percent at the outset, picked up the offensive slack in a losing cause with a career-high 28 points, Quincy Guerrier had his almost usual double-double – 18 points and 12 rebounds.
HERO: Pittsburgh welcomed back leading scorer Champagnie from an injury, and he delivered. The versatile forward dazzled with the team-high 24 points including three emphatic dunks, and 16 rebounds. Guards Ithiel Horton and Xavier Johnson also stood out combining for 43 points.
ZERO: The Syracuse backcourt struggled, starters Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard combined for just 14 points, Girard going 0-4 shooting and sitting much of the second half. As a team SU could not hit from beyond the arc finishing just 3-of-22. Watching his team’s defense get torched, a frustrated Jim Boeheim picked up his first technical foul of the season with 4:32 left to play.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns home to play Miami this coming Tuesday, Jan. 19. The two teams met last season in Coral Gables with the Hurricanes winning 69-65. SU leads 5-4 in ACC play. Miami (5-6, 1-5) hosted No. 16 Louisville Saturday night. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET. TV: ACC Network.