Syracuse 13-6 (2-4) picked up a much needed 59-45 win against Pittsburgh 8-11 (0-6) on Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome. The Orange snapped a 4 game losing streak behind a great all-around performance from Frank Howard. Howard finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists.
Why Syracuse won
Syracuse played really strong defense throughout the game. The Orange held the Panthers to 35% field goal shooting and 34.8% shooting from 3 point range. With the exception of freshman guard Parker Stewart (pictured below), Syracuse shut down Pittsburgh’s main scoring options. Junior guard Jared Wilson-Frame, Pittsburgh’s leading scorer, was held to 5 points on 1-6 shooting. Syracuse’s stingy defense led to 18 Panther turnovers. Frank Howard led the way with 5 steals for the Orange.
Syracuse wasn’t great offensively but they generated enough buckets when they needed to get the job done. Tyus Battle (pictured below) was quiet for the first 18 minutes of the first half but closed the half with 2 big buckets to extend the Orange lead to 5 points and he started the second half with 2 quick scores as well. He finished with 15 points on 7-16 shooting.
The first half was highlighted by a step back 19 foot jumper by Matthew Moyer. Moyer has shown more confidence the last few games and it seems like Boeheim is trying to get him more involved in the offense. Moyer had 6 first half points but didn’t see much second half action and finished the game with 6 points. Howard Washington came into the game early and relieved Tyus Battle. Battle was on the bench for around 3 minutes receiving much needed rest after playing all 50 minutes of Saturday’s Florida State 2OT loss.
Pittsburgh hurt themselves early with 4 quick turnovers and finished the half with 10. The Panthers biggest issue in the first have was their inability to score. They went 7:27 without any points from the 15:23 mark to the 7:56 mark.
Stewart was the one bright spot for Pittsburgh in the first half. He had 12 points on 4 three pointers going into the half. His outside shooting success led to more looks for teammates inside the zone but it didn’t lead to many conversions.
Battle closed the half with a nice floater in the lane to give Syracuse a 27-22 halftime lead.
Battle picked up where he left off at the end of the first half and scored 2 quick buckets. Stewart hit 2 early pointers to cut the Orange lead to 36-32. After enduring a 5:39 scoring drought from the 15:43 mark to the 10:04 mark, the Orange went on an 8-0 run behind a three pointer from Battle and a driving lay-up by Howard in which he was fouled too. Howard made the free throw to give Syracuse a commanding 45-35 lead.
Marek Dolezaj (pictured below) played well in the second half and manned the middle of Pittsburgh’s zone defense. He distributed the ball and found teammates for open looks. He still isn’t comfortable shooting the mid-range jumper but once he develops that shot he’ll be a great asset for the Orange.
Coach Jim Boeheim elaborated on Dolezaj after the game, “Marek seems to be the only guy in the middle of the zone that has an idea of what he’s doing in there. Our other two freshman don’t. That hurts us against the zone.”
The game wasn’t out of reach for the Panthers until they went on a 7:34 scoring drought that started with 9:47 left in the game and ended with 2:13 left. Syracuse built a 14 point lead and held onto it down the stretch as they won the game 59-45.
This was a much needed win for the Orange to improve to 13-6 (2-4). Even though they didn’t play particularly well they showed promising signs on defense forcing the Panthers to commit 18 turnovers. The offense never got going too well but they received just enough from Frank Howard and Tyus Battle on the offensive end to secure an easy win against a poor Pittsburgh team.
Boeheim continues to fiddle with the line-up as Howard Washington and Matthew Moyer saw some minutes in the first half but didn’t see much action in the second half. Boeheim was comfortable with Dolezaj in the line-up in the second half and it’ll be interesting to see who he puts on the floor in important games in the future
Jim Boeheim Post-Game Press Conference
Syracuse has over a week until the Orange face Boston College at home on Wednesday, January 24. Boston College is 13-6 (3-3) on the season with a big win over Duke back in early December. The game is at 7:00pm on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app.Embed from Getty Images