A quick take on Syracuse’s embarrassing 64-53 road loss to Pitt on Tuesday evening:
WHAT HAPPENED: Up 28-24 at half, Syracuse’s offense completely disappeared after intermission. Syracuse shot 28.1 percent from the field and an atrocious 1-14 from downtown in the second half. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s offense, one of the worst in college basketball at 61.6 ppg (407th), picked apart Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, hitting 50 percent of their shots from the field and 6-12 from downtown in the final 20 minutes. Syracuse dropped to 9-11 on the season, further imperiling Jim Boeheim’s chance at avoiding his first losing season in his storied Orange head coaching career.
ANALYSIS: This could be considered the worst loss of Syracuse’s season, though there are a few bad losses to choose from (Georgetown, Colgate and VCU being others). The case for Pitt? Aside from one of the worst offenses in the ACC, the Panthers came in at 7-12 overall and only one win above the basement in the conference. They won ugly, with both teams failing to top 35 percent shooting for the game. But what was particularly difficult to watch was SU’s combined 6-31 shooting from downtown. Aside from Buddy Boeheim (25 points), no one else scored in double figures. Joe Girard (1-9), Jimmy Boeheim (3-10) and Cole Swider (3-14) all struggled to score, and without Symir Torrence (knee) in the lineup, Jim Boeheim had little options to turn to in his back court to change the pace.
HERO: Jamarius Burton (21 points) and Mouhamadou Gueye (19 points, 10 rebounds) paced Pitt’s offensive attack. John Hugley chipped in 11 rebounds, and pulled down 18 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end. That helped lead to 13 second-chance points for the Panthers.
ZERO: There are plenty to choose from, but with Syracuse struggling to contain Pitt in the second half, it could’ve used a rangy, athletic wing to cover ground. And while Syracuse has one sitting on its bench (Benny Williams), Jim Boeheim didn’t go to his five-star freshman until around the three minute mark in the second half with the game mostly decided. Instead, Boeheim turned to lightly used John Bol Ajak ahead of the rotation earlier in the game when Joe Girard took a hard tumble to the floor and had to be subbed out.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange returns to action on Saturday at 8 p.m. when it hosts Wake Forest (17-4, 7-3) at home. The two teams last played on Jan. 8, with the Orange losing in OT 77-74.