|Dude doesn't like the Pitt blackout|
Consider this the first game in the SIPB Era (Self-Imposed Posteason Ban Era). The popular question was "how would the players respond to having nothing to play for?" But that's not true; they have pride, they have the ability to shake up conference standings/tiebreakers; and of course Rakeem Christmas has draft stock to play for. So for Syracuse on Saturday, the job was still to fight hard and play for a win. For much of the game, they did. But ultimately it was not enough, as the Panthers beat the Orange 83-77.
- Leading the way for Syracuse offensively was Rakeem Christmas and Michael Gbinije at 23 points each. Rak was 9-13 from the floor, while Mike was 9-14 (including 3-6 from three).
- Along with those 23 points, Christmas also pulled down 12 rebounds, good for another double-double on the season. The Orange is squeezing every bit of production out of his time on the floor, and in this one it was all 40. A couple quick fouls against Rak in the second half brought him to four, and led to him being less aggressive on defense for the remainder of the game. That, in large part, allowed Pittsburgh to come back, gain the lead, and keep it.
- Trevor Cooney was the only other double digit scorer for Syracuse, with 12, while having an off night shooting -- 3-12 and 1-7 from three. He was a perfect 5-5 from the line, though, so that's something. He also dished out more assists (five) than the team's point guard (zero).
- In some ways, this was a tale of two halves: Syracuse shot well in the first half (56.67% to 38.71%) while Pittsburgh had the advantage in the second half (58.62% to 40.91%).
- Last week's Virginia Tech comeback aside, we're seeing a trend develop on this Syracuse team: between the high minutes played due to the short bench, and players getting in foul trouble, the Orange just aren't the same team down the stretch in games. Less intensity, less aggressiveness. I'm not saying the players are dogging it out there, and I'm not saying the team is losing because of it, but it's a factor that's effecting this team. There's no easy fix to it at this point; they'll have to do the best they can. Or, build insurmountable leads earlier in the game.
Overall this was a pretty good game. Syracuse came out strong, putting to rest any question whether these student-athletes had anything to play for. Pittsburgh has always been a tough place to play, for any visiting team, so good effort out there. Syracuse tries to travel to the snow capital of the world (lately) for Wednesday's game at Boston College, before the big home game on Saturday against Duke.