Syracuse 15-6 (4-4) overcame a sloppy first half to pick up a 60-55 win over Pittsburgh. Freshman Bourama Sidibe, who sat out Wednesday’s game against Boston College due to a nagging injury, finished with 18 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks to lead the Orange.
Coach Jim Boheim praised Sidibe’s play, “Bourama was tremendous. He’s been getting better in practice (and getting) healthier. He had his best practice of the year this week. I didn’t anticipate him playing that much.”
Why Syracuse won
Sidibe’s incredible performance was much needed as Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett struggled for the majority of the game. Tyus Battle stepped up and hit some big shots but without Sidibe’s scoring the Orange wouldn’t have won this game.
Syracuse’s defense was outstanding and held Pittsburgh to 27.7% field goal shooting and 26.5% from three point range. The Panthers relied heavily on the three ball but only made 9-34.
Marek Dolezaj got his first start this season as Matthew Moyer sported a boot as he watched the game from the sidelines. Dolezaj committed a bad early turnover as Syracuse looked sloppy and Pittsburgh jumped out of the gates quickly and built a 14-6 lead behind 12 points from guard Jared Wilson-Frame (pictured below).
Sidibe and Howard Washington were inserted into the lineup around the 14 minute mark and things slowly started to turn around. Tyus Battle scored 5 straight points and Frank Howard stole an inbounds pass and got fouled on the ensuing break away which led to two free throws and the Orange took a 17-15 lead as a result.
Syracuse really struggled to shoot during the first half. Brissett, Dolezaj, Paschal Chukwu and Howard combined to shoot 1-17 the first 19:30 of the game. Syracuse as a team shot 6-27 (22.2%) from the field and 1-10 (10%) from three land.
Guard Marcus Carr (pictured below) hit a three pointer as time expired to cut the Syracuse lead to 22-20 at halftime. Sidibe finished the half with 8 points and 4 rebounds.Embed from Getty Images
Sidibe continued his great play in the second half and had a block on the defensive end and a dunk on the other end on consecutive plays to give Syracuse a three point lead.
Guard Parker Stewart and Carr hit three pointers for the Panthers to tie the game at 34 with 11:55 to play. Luckily for the Orange, Stewart didn’t catch fire like he did last Tuesday against the Orange at the Carrier Dome.
Sidibe finished a nice alley-oop and made a pair of free throws on back to back possessions to give Syracuse a 38-36 lead as the game remained close.
The Orange extended the lead with a 7-0 run when Howard hit a floater in the lane and Brissett scored 5 straight points to give Syracuse a 47-40 lead. Guard Khameron Davis answered with a three pointer to cut the Syracuse lead to 4.
Battle (pictured below) hit the game’s biggest shot two minutes after Davis’ shot with a huge three pointer from the corner to give the Orange a 50-43 lead with 4:05 remaining.Embed from Getty Images
Coach Boeheim said, “Ty hit the one shot we needed to have as I think that gave us separation.”
Pittsburgh tried to press and forced a Syracuse turnover but it was too little too late.
Brissett put the exclamation point on the game with a break away dunk with 32 seconds left. Syracuse won 60-55.
Sidibe led the charge and Battle finished with 14 points and 5 rebounds. Howard struggled and shot 2-10 from the field to finish with 6 points. Chukwu also played poorly and watched Sidibe play the majority of the game from the bench. Chukwu finished 0-4 from the field and looked lost out on the court at times.
Boeheim was clearly disappointed with Chukwu, “Paschal wasn’t involved in the game at all. He wasn’t doing what he’s been doing (which is) catching and going up strong.”
Syracuse plays at Georgia Tech on Wednesday at 8pm. The game will be televised on ACC Network. Georgia Tech is 10-10 (3-4) this year. If the Orange pull out the win they will improve to 16-6 (5-4) which would put them in a pretty good spot before entering a tougher part of their schedule with games vs. Virginia (February 3) and at Louisville (February 5) coming up.
**cover photo courtesy of USA Today**