Syracuse Caps Off Road Trip With 65-56 Win at Pittsburgh
By Zach Lang
CitrusTV Men’s Basketball Reporter
PITTSBURGH, PA – Syracuse Men’s Basketball (16-6, 7-2 Atlantic Coast) held onto an early lead at the Petersen Event Center to silence the Pittsburgh Panthers (12-10, 2-7) with a 65-56 win. The Orange completed the season sweep against their old Big East rival after beating the Panthers 74-63 earlier this season in the Carrier Dome.
Sophomore forward Oshae Brissett led Syracuse with 18 points and 12 rebounds; Saturday’s game was his fifth double-double of the season. Tyus Battle, the Orange’s leading scorer on the season, was held to just six points. His first field goal came late in the second half after shooting 0-10 in the first 28 minutes of the contest.
“I felt like I did a great job out there,” said Brissett. “Our main scorer today wasn’t playing too well… we picked it up and picked him up as well.”
“I wouldn’t think we would survive a game where Tyus has four points late in the game,” said Head Coach Jim Boeheim. “He just couldn’t get the ball in the basket.”
The Orange changed up their usual game plan in the first half, preferring to attack the paint over shooting a high volume of shots from the three-point line. Senior center Paschal Chukwu was tied for the most points on the Syracuse roster at halftime with eight. Chukwu also scored four of the Orange’s first six points.
“Whenever I get [the ball], I just try to make a play,” said Chukwu, who scored just four points over the last two games. “Whenever you win, it’s a lot of fun.”
Late in the first half, the Orange returned to form with a flurry of three-pointers. Buddy Boeheim replaced senior Frank Howard and dropped two threes. Elijah Hughes and Marek Dolezaj also added three pointers to take a 35-22 lead into the locker room. But Boeheim didn’t see the floor for the rest of the game.
Pittsburgh returned to the floor with a far more energetic performance, visibly frustrating the Orange with full-court pressure. Syracuse began the second half by shooting just 1-12, committing multiple fouls and giving up points at the free-throw line.
During the ensuing Panthers run, Brissett was called for a foul on guard Trey McGowens as the latter shot a three. He made all three free throws. Assistant Coach Gerry McNamara and Brissett were upset with the call, claiming McGowens stuck his leg out.
“The ref knew he kicked his foot out.” said Brissett. “He didn’t even talk to me after because he knew.”
Minutes later, McGowens did the same thing, but drained the three. The bucket was waved off and the freshman was called for the offensive foul, signaling the start to an Orange push to hold the lead.
“I knew he stuck his leg out,” said Howard, who had struck McGowens on the second instance. “The ref got it, and I think it was the right call.”
Pittsburgh failed to reclaim the lead throughout the rest of the half en route to its fifth straight loss. Syracuse, on the other hand, sits at 7-2 in conference play. Their next game comes on Tuesday, February 5th as the Orange return to the Carrier Dome.