Syracuse travels to Pittsburgh

Syracuse 14-6 (3-4) hits the road to play Pittsburgh 8-13 (0-8) as the Orange looks for its third straight win.

Opponent: Pittsburgh Panthers

Location: Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Date: Saturday, January 24

Time: 4:00pm ET

Watch: ACC Network or WatchESPN

Line: Syracuse -10

Pittsburgh is one of the worst Power 5 conference teams in the country  

The Panthers are suffering through their worst season since 1976-77 when the team finished 6-21 under coach Tim Grgurich. The Panthers are 0-8 in conference play and many pundits don’t believe the Panthers will secure a conference win this season. Pittsburgh is ranked 160 in the RPI and only two Power 5 conference teams are below them: California (176) and Rutgers (180).

Pittsburgh nearly secured their first ACC win of the season Wednesday night at home against North Carolina State. The Panthers were up nine points with 5:54 remaining but the Wolfpack stormed back behind a big run to steal the game in the final minutes.

Top Players

Freshman guard Parker Stewart (pictured below) wasn’t even listed as a Pittsburgh top player last week before Syracuse hosted the Panthers but Stewart has played a couple good games recently. As we all know, he dropped 23 points on Syracuse last Tuesday and hit 7 three pointers. He was the lone bright spot for Pittsburgh in their loss. He also played well in a blowout loss at Duke in which he had 15 points and made 3 three pointers. Stewart took a big step back Wednesday night vs. North Carolina State as he finished with only 2 points on 0-6 shooting.

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Leading scorer, junior guard Jared Wilson-Frame (pictured below) has struggled the last couple weeks but bounced back Wednesday night against the Wolfpack with a season-high 22 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. In his previous three games, he was shooting 27.7% from the field and only scored 5 points against Syracuse and 4 points against Duke.

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Strength

With all the struggles Pittsburgh has faced this year, they actually aren’t a bad defensive team. They are 8th in the ACC in scoring defense at 70.8 points per game and are 6th in three point shooting defense at 33%. Syracuse shot 7/16 (43.8%) from three point range on Wednesday night against Boston College but Pittsburgh held the Orange to 5/18 (27.8%) three point shooting last Tuesday. If Syracuse doesn’t shoot well from beyond the arc expect this to be a close game.

Weakness

The Panthers continue to have issues rebounding the ball. They are last in the ACC in rebounding margin at -3.2. Pittsburgh was outrebounded 42-34 by North Carolina State on Wednesday.

Turnovers have also plagued Pittsburgh throughout the year. They are averaging 15.1 turnovers per game which puts them dead last in the conference. The Panthers committed 18 turnovers against the Orange last week and will need to clean that up if they want to be competitive on Saturday.

Head Coach

Kevin Stallings is 24-30 all-time at Pittsburgh. He took over the program last season and has had many critics from the beginning. If Pittsburgh doesn’t show any promise the rest of the season, Stallings might lose his job.

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He spent 16 seasons at Vanderbilt and compiled a 332-220 record. He led the Commodores to the Sweet Sixteen in 2004 and 2007.

Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh All-Time Series

The Orange are 67-45 all-time against the Panthers. Pittsburgh has dominated the series as of late though, winning 6 of the last 8.

Syracuse won at home last Tuesday 59-45 behind an 18 point and 7 rebound performance from Frank Howard. Highlights from that game below:

The teams first faced off over a century ago in 1914. Syracuse won 36-29.

Stallings is 1-2 against Syracuse as the Pittsburgh head coach and Jim Boeheim is 43-29 against the Panthers.

Prediction

Syracuse wins 72-60

**cover photo courtesy of The Daily Orange**

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