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We're upset the refs don't know charges from blocks too, Jim.
Big Monday. ESPN. McDonough/Bilas/Raftery. It doesn't matter who you play; it is what it is and it's always gonna be a rough game in the Big East. This past Monday's matchup in the Carrier Dome between Pittsburgh and Syracuse was no different. The Orange had a lot riding on this game: the potential for the best start in school history at 20-0, a chance to widen its lead in the Big East standings, and a chance to beat Pitt in the regular season for the first time since 2003.  And so the magic continued, as #1 Syracuse beat Pittsburgh 71-63.
  • I vividly remember last year's game at Pitt. I watched on TV with Brian at The Green Derby, a local Elmira restaurant and bar.  That game began with a 19-0 run by Pitt.  Syracuse followed with a 17-0 run of its own, but eventually came up short.
  • This year started much the same, only it was Syracuse that began with the big run to start the game. Though it was 13-0, that run provided the Orange with the cushion it needed to keep the lead in this game.
  • Dion Waiters led the way for Syracuse with 16 points on 4-9 shooting, including 2-3 from three and 6-8 from the line. He's a gamer and one of the go-to guys. Take note, America.
  • Three others had 12 points: Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, and Brandon Triche. Rounding out the double-digit scoring for the Orange was Fab Melo with 10 points.
  • Add to Fab's 10 points his 10 rebounds, and he has a double double.
  • Scoop also had a double double: his 12 points with his 10 assists were Scooperific.
  • Funny that CJ Fair doesn't get a mention until now, but check this: seven points, five boards, and three blocks in 28 minutes, including a monster flying dunk that made #1 on the SportsCenter top plays. Just another day at the office for CJ.
  • Though he had a good game, including his double double, Fab Melo was a liability out there on the floor for much of the game. He was absolutely being abused by Pittsburgh, and the refs were hesitant to call anything. But when it came to Fab pushing the line, it was called post-haste. Fab fouled out eventually. It's the Big East, that'll happen. But Fab's hands were the liability. He just couldn't hold onto the ball. In fact, he had six turnovers. It got to the point where I was callling for Baye to enter the game, because I didn't think his ball handling could be any worse than what we were getting from Fab...
  • And when Keita entered, I was proved wrong immediately as he had a turnover. Sure, that was his only one of the game, but that's only because he saved himself or his teammates bailed him out a few times. Can these guys just get some strong hands, please?
  • What else was a big liability? Rebounds. We knew that would be a statistical category we'd probably lose to Pitt, who currently is one of the best rebounding teams in the country (proving that rebounding doesn't equal winning). The margin here was 40-28 favoring Pitt, but it seemed like it wasn't even that close. In my experience it's tough to win a Big East game if the margin is 10 or more, or if you can't even reach 30; but Syracuse debunked that. So, there's that. Which is nice.
  • Defensively, Syracuse played the game they needed to, and didn't let any one Pitt player dominate: Lamar Patterson, Ashton Gibbs, and Cameron Wright all led the team with just 10 points.
  • Statistically, Syracuse out-shot Pitt 46% to 39.3%.
  • I'm not even going to do any more statistical comparisons, except for the one that mattered the most: free throws. Syracuse was 20-23 (WHAT?!? YES KEEP DOING THAT!), while Pitt was 12-23. Same number of attempts for each team, but Syracuse hit the eight that Pitt couldn't. The margin of victory was eight. You do the math.
Syracuse improves to 20-0 on the season, 7-0 in the Big East, and earns a hard-fought victory over a perennial rival. Pitt continues its descent into the under-belly of Chicago's sewers, as the bottom of the Big East has been known in recent years due to its occupations by DePaul (who, it should be noted, also beat Pitt). And so now it's time for Syracuse to face a couple true road tests, on Saturday at Notre Dame and on Monday at Cincinnati. They should be good games, and they're both on ESPN, so, no excuses to not watch.

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