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Pittsburgh 83 - Syracuse 77: Five Big Takeaways

Let's revisit Saturday's game.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange suffered its third loss in four games on Saturday, falling to the Pittsburgh Panthers 83-77 at the Petersen Events Center. Here are five takeaways:

1. Another "should've, could've, would've" road loss.

Much like losses at Michigan, Villanova, and North Carolina earlier this season, Syracuse was ahead for much of Saturday's game but ultimately couldn't seal the deal. The Orange led by as many as 10 points in the first half and by as many as four points in the second half, but the Panthers finished the game on a 13-6 run to send SU home with its fourth ACC loss. And, again, say what you want about the fatigue factor, but there's something to be said for the fact that this continually happens to Syracuse away from the Carrier Dome. It can't just be chalked up to coincidence, can it?

2. Gbinije's best game yet?

Michael Gbinije finished Saturday's game with 23 points, just one point shy of his season and career-high. He kept Syracuse afloat with his distance shooting in the second half, when he made two momentum-killing three-pointers in the final nine minutes. He also had four rebounds, three assists, and four of the Orange's five steals. All things considered, you could make the case that it was the junior's best game of the season.

3. Cooney struggles again.

Trevor Cooney went 3-of-12 from the field and 1-of-7 from three-point range in the loss. In Syracuse's past three games, he's 20-of-56 from the floor and just 7-of-32 (21.9 percent) from distance. I support the "shooters have to keep shooting" mentality, but there has to be a happy medium here. Cooney needs to shoot, but he also needs to be smarter about what shots he takes. Late in the first half on Saturday, he took and air-balled a fadeaway three-pointer relatively early in the shot clock. The Orange simply can't afford that.

4. Ron Patterson listened.

Three days after head coach Jim Boeheim ripped Ron Patterson's tendency to shoot too many three-pointers, the sophomore attempted zero threes on Saturday in 16 minutes of play. He finished 1-of-2 from the field with two points, two assists, and a steal. For at least one afternoon, Patterson listened to his coach. Moving forward, it'll be interesting to see if he's significantly less willing to shoot.

5. Christmas fills the stat sheet.

Here's a shocker: Rakeem Christmas was the best player on either side on Saturday. Forget his 23 points, which marked the eighth time he's eclipsed the 20-point plateau this season. The center also finished with 12 rebounds and six blocks, both of which were game-highs. As the team's lone senior, Christmas will surely suffer the most from SU's self-imposed postseason ban, but he didn't allow that to affect his play, even in a loss. And though Rak will never again play in the NCAA Tournament, it'd be nice to see him take home the ACC Player of the Year award -- something he certainly deserves consideration for.