Syracuse 12-6 (1-4) hosts Pittsburgh 8-10 (0-5) as the Orange looks to snap a 4 game losing streak.
Opponent: Pittsburgh Panthers
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY
Date: Tuesday, January 16
Time: 9:00pm ET
Watch: Regional Sports Network or WatchESPN app
Line: Syracuse -16.5
Pittsburgh off to a 0-5 start in ACC play
The Panthers lost all 5 starters from last season’s team that had the school’s first losing record in 17 years and was picked to finish last in the preseason ACC rankings. They’ve lived up to the low expectations.
Pittsburgh started the season with bad losses against Navy and Montana and also lost to Penn State and Oklahoma State in late November in the Progressive Legends Classic at Barclays Center. In arguably the team’s best performance of the year, the Panthers lost on the road to a good West Virginia team 69-60. West Virginia is currently #6 in the country.
To make matters worse, the Panthers best player senior forward Ryan Luther suffered a stress reaction in his right knee and was recently ruled out for the rest of the season. Luther led the team with 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. As a result of the injury, the already freshman dependent Panthers have been forced to play even more freshman and have started 5 freshman at times recently.
Pittsburgh’s best wins are nothing to write home about. UC Santa Barbara (100 RPI rank) and Towson (69 RPI rank) are the Panther’s best wins.
The team’s non-conference play didn’t make anyone optimistic for ACC play and they’ve started very poorly. Pittsburgh is off to a 0-5 start with losses at Louisville and Virginia Tech and losses at home against Miami, Duke and Georgia Tech. The Panthers lost the 5 games by an average of 20.8 points.
Pittsburgh head coach Kevin Stallings hopes the freshman will develop quickly and come together as a unit to help salvage part of the season but it’
With Luther out to injury, the Panthers are led by a trio of guards. Junior Jared Wilson-Frame (pictured below) leads the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game but has shot 28/93 (30%) from the field over the past 7 games. Freshman Marcus Carr contributes 10.5 points and 3.9 assists per game, which is good enough for 13th in the ACC. Freshman Shamiel Stevenson has been streaky this season but averages 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Stevenson dropped 19 points and 6 rebounds against Montana back in November.
It’s not very surprising that Pittsburgh doesn’t possess many strengths. They have been holding opponents to 32.3% shooting from three point range. This is an area to watch on Tuesday night as the Orange have been shooting the three ball better lately.
The Panthers front court has been rather thin since Luther went down to injury. The team is having trouble rebounding. Pittsburgh ranks 289th in the country in rebounds with 33.4 per game and ranks 315th in the nation in offensive rebounds at 8.1 per game.
One of the biggest problems for them this year has been taking care of the ball. Pittsburgh turns the ball over too much, 14.9 times per game. The Panthers are ranked 343rd in the country in turnover margin at -3.8. There are only 351 teams in Division 1 basketball.
Kevin Stallings (pictured below) took over the Pittsburgh head coaching job in 2016. Many in the Panthers community disagreed with the hire as Stallings saw slightly above average success as the Vanderbilt head coach but he wasn’t regarded as a home run hire. Jamie Dixon, the previous head coach, was seen as a better option than Stallings.
Stallings is 24-27 at Pittsburgh. Previously, he spent 16 seasons at Vanderbilt and compiled a 332-220 record. He led the Commodores to the Sweet Sixteen in 2004 and 2007 but didn’t see as much success the last few years of his tenure.
Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh All-Time Series
The Orange are 66-45 all-time against the Panthers. Pittsburgh has dominated the series as of late though, winning 6 of the last 7. Most recently, Syracuse won at home last season in January and lost at Pittsburgh 80-75 in February. Cameron Johnson led the Panthers with 22 points. Watch the highlights here:
The teams first faced off over a century ago in 1914. Syracuse won 36-29.
Stallings is 1-1 against Syracuse as the Pittsburgh head coach and Jim Boeheim is 42-29 against the Panthers.
Syracuse wins 76-62