Syracuse, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange returned home after its biggest win of the season against Duke on Monday and handled business against the Pittsburgh Panthers. Syracuse got off to an early lead only to let Pitt go on a run to end the first, but the Orange created sepeartion in the second half and won by a final score of 74-63.
Tyus Battle led the way in scoring with 22 points after he shook off a rough start and Buddy Boeheim added four threes off the bench and a free throw for a career high 13 points.
Paschal Chukwu looked like the one from the Duke game in the opening minutes. He caught a feed from the high post by Oshae Brissett to him in the low post and smoothly laid it in for a 7-3 lead. He tipped an offensive rebound out, grabbed another while drawing a foul a minute later and forced a jump ball blocking the rim on the defensive end. Hanging two fingers up after one of his offensive boards to call a play, he looked like the Chukwu of Duke as Syracuse built an early lead.
But it disappeared quickly five minutes in behind a Xavier Johnson three-pointer. He’d foul Frank Howard late in a shot clock, before Tyus Battle tossed a shot up three seconds into the new 20 seconds given. Syracuse turned it over seconds after forcing one of their own. An early deficit drew Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj – of Zion Williamson charge fame – into the game. Brissett and Howard hit threes to top one by Jared Wilson-Frame, and the Orange led 15-11 after Pittsburgh tossed another turnover into the back court.
The confusion and madness flowed on as Dolezaj and Trey McGowens collided, McGowens struggled back on defense and Buddy Boeheim called for the ball wide open at the three-point line. He splashed it to hand the Orange an 18-11 lead. Howard air-balled possessions later, Battle ran back on defense complaining about a call while Dolezaj had gotten SU the ball back and Pittsburgh’s bench yelled out several times through their team’s early mistakes.
Through nearly 15 minutes Syracuse held a lead without a point from their leading-scorer Battle. That changed after Battle landed a three on his sixth shot attempt, then splashed from mid-range next time down to cap a 8-0 Syracuse run into a double-digit lead.
The Orange led by as many as 12 in the first half but walked into halftime only leading by three. Brissett picked up a pair of aggressive blocks under the rim on Au’Diese Toney, but the second bounced to Chukwu who hit Wilson-Frames in rhythm for three. A Brissett missed and turnover turned into points for Johnson in transition, and Pittsburgh closed a 13-3 points off turnovers gap into 13-10 at the half to pull within 28-25.
An odd game flowed into the second half with nearly three minutes of scoreless basketball between the two sides. The carnage, with a missed dunk and long three on both ends, ended with an Ellison layup to pull the Panther within one. Elijah Hughes stripped McGowens, then hit a three in rhythm from Brissett on the other end to give the Orange some space.
Howard added another with Dolezaj in the game alongside Chukwu, holding off Battle early in the possession and lurking in the corner before receiving a drive-and-kick pass from Dolezaj for the open look. Battle got two shooting around a screen, then got a look from Dolezaj as he cut baseline to push the lead further. A few plays later he hit Chukwu rolling to the rim in a perfect pick-and-roll. Hughes drove to the rim for a rattling dunk, then Battle chipped in three more above the arc to push Syracuse’s lead to a game-high 15.
Ultimately, the Orange held off the Pitt press toward the end and won by a final score of 74-63. Aside from solid performances from Battle and Boehiem, Chukwu had 6 points and 11 rebounds while Frank Howard had 10 points and 5 assists.
Syracuse shot 46.2 percent from three while Pittsburgh shot just 34.4 percent from the floor overall. Pitt turned it over 17 times in the contest.
Jim Boeheim after #Syracuse beat #Pittsburgh. @nunesmagician https://t.co/yot5B5eNSB— Bobby Manning (@RealBobManning) January 19, 2019
Video recap from our own Dylan Finer:
Syracuse returns home next week to take on Miami. That game tips at 8 pm on Thursday and will air on the ACCN.