Syracuse wins race to bottom against Pitt

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Jan 5, 2022; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim reacts during the first half against the Miami Hurricanes at Watsco Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to a woeful second half performance, Syracuse now has a new contender for their most embarrassing loss of the season. After stifling Pittsburgh in the first half, the Orange (9-11, 3-6 ACC) allowed them to shoot 50 percent from the field and were outscored, 40-25, after the break en route to a 64-53 road loss, their sixth in eight games.

The Panthers (8-12, 3-6) made just 21.9 percent of their shots in the first half, including a mere 1-of-14 on three-pointers, but came back as only three SU players scored in the first 19-plus minutes of the second session. Syracuse shot just 30.2 percent in the game, including just 19.4 percent from three. That included a span of nearly 30 minutes where they shot just 1-of-21 from beyond the arc.

The Orange looked sluggish out of the gate, but were able to grab an early 10-4 lead as Pitt made just one of their first 14 field goal attempts. SU pushed their lead to nine on Buddy Boeheim’s second triple of the opening minutes.

Pitt pulled within five points on two separate occasions, then went scoreless for just over four minutes. That gave Syracuse the opportunity to gradually push their lead out to 21-11 with a little over six minutes left in the opening half. Pittsburgh responded with nine straight points, but the Orange held the lead, getting another Buddy Boeheim trey shortly before the break for a 28-24 advantage.

SU kept the Panthers at bay for the first three-and-a-half minutes coming out of the break, but the hosts then used an 18-5 burst to seize control at 47-40 with just over 11 minutes remaining. The Orange worked their way back within 49-45 less than three minutes later, but promptly went into an offensive drought, as Jesse Edwards was the only Syracuse player to score for over six minutes.

» Related: Could Syracuse have a losing season for the first time under Jim Boeheim?

Pittsburgh went through their own drought that lasted for over three minutes, but they still scored nine of the game’s ten points in that Orange cold snap, strengthening their hold on the game to 58-46, making the remaining two minutes and change academic.

Buddy Boeheim was the top scorer on the night, netting 25 points, but needed 23 field goal attempts to get there, making just 4-of-15 three-point tries. Cole Swider had nine points, but shot just 3-for-14. Jimmy Boeheim and Jesse Edwards each added eight points, the former doing all his damage in the opening half and the latter adding nine rebounds and three blocks.

Jamarius Burton led the way for Pitt with 21 points. Mouhamadou Gueye had a big night, finishing with a career-high 19 points to go with ten rebounds and three blocked shots. John Hugley was a force down low with 11 points and 18 rebounds, 13 coming in the first half. Onyebuchi Ezeakudo, a surprise starter for the Panthers, hit three triples as he also had 11 points.

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About Jim Stechschulte 805 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. He currently resides in Syracuse. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.