A quick take on Syracuse’s 84-82 loss to Pitt on a wild evening at the JMA Wireless Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: A late 10-2 run from Syracuse pulled the Orange to within 83-82 with 17 seconds left. On the potential go-ahead possession, Judah Mintz telegraphed a pass to Jesse Edwards and it was stolen by Blake Hinson, who went 1 of 2 from the line. That still left SU with six seconds to win, but a wild 3-pointer from Mintz at the buzzer missed, and Pitt escaped with the win. It was a frantic finish, especially given that the Panthers led by as many as 62-44 with 13:13 to go after a Jamarius Burton free throw.
ANALYSIS: Why did Syracuse trail throughout most of the evening? Look no further than the 3-point line. Syracuse shot 6-24 (1-12 in the first half), while Pitt was 13-32. The Orange did get it going late with a run of heroic 3-pointers from Joe Girard, who finished 3-8 from downtown. But Chris Bell went 0-5 from downtown, and SU’s bench combined for just 1-5 shooting. A secondary reason was rebounding, as Pitt was +9 on the glass. Syracuse’s starting wings, Benny Williams and Chris Bell, had only one combined rebound.
HERO: Syracuse’s starting backcourt of Girard and Mintz combined for 40 points and nine assists, while Mintz led SU with five steals. Jesse Edwards had six blocks, but was hampered with foul trouble on the night, fouling out in the game’s waning moments. Nelly Cummings, a familiar foe to Syracuse from his days at Colgate, scored 22 points on 6-11 shooting from distance, while Hinson led all scorers with 25.
ZERO: Jim Boeheim has frequently lamented about lack the effort of his starting forwards, which caused him to look to his bench often. In Williams and Bell’s place, Maliq Brown finished with nine rebounds, while Quadir Copeland played extended minutes, chipping in 10 points.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse hosts Boston College for a New Years Eve matchup at 2 p.m. TV: ACC Network.