When the Syracuse Orange head down to the Petersen Events Center to face the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday, they’ll be walking into an unpleasant environment.
Since “The Pete” opened in 2002, the Panthers have been unstoppable against most at home, with over 200 wins recorded already. Against Syracuse, in particular, they’ve gone 8-2 in the building and beaten the Orange by an average of more than 10 points per game.
We certainly remember one game in particular at the Pete. But really, it’s our only positive memory over the course of 10 games there.
Since that moment, a miracle 58-56 win on Tyler Ennis’s last-second shot, Syracuse has lost two straight road games to Pitt. Until collecting an impressive 11-point win vs. the Panthers back in January, SU had lost five consecutive matchups in the city.
As we discussed last year, every game against Pitt is the same. Or at least every loss is -- or was while Jamie Dixon was in charge for the Panthers. Orange fans breathed a sigh of relief when the coach headed back to his alma mater TCU. Pitt hired Kevin Stallings to replace him and he’s been... underwhelming so far, to say the least.
So we’ll see if the pain continues for Syracuse at Pittsburgh, or if the Stallings era ushers in new and positive results. Dixon was 15-6 against the Orange, and knew how to beat the zone better than just about any coach. Stallings hasn’t proven as much at all, even if the players are the same. The venue, after all, isn’t the one drawing up plays.
If SU can pull off a season sweep against Pitt, it’ll be the second time this century that they’ve managed to win two straight vs. the Panthers. The last time was 2013-14 (three straight). But before that? You have to go all the way back to 1998-2001 (seven straight).
With luck, we can hope it’s the start of another hot streak against the long-time foe and forced ACC rival.