The Syracuse Orange actually had a better total offensive game than the Pittsburgh Panthers. That’s hard to believe considering the final score, but Pitt took advantage of multiple open looks from three, second chance points and points off turnovers to run away with the game in the second half. Pitt shot 63.6% from the floor and 55% from range in the final 20 minutes of the game to send the Oakland Zoo home happy with a 99-82 win over the Orange.
Here’s our three takeaways from a third straight Orange loss:
Rock and a hard place
You all have thoughts on the zone. It’s clear that this season’s iteration is not up to the standards of past teams. The real question, however, is what could’ve changed? Sure, different lineup configurations might have mitigated some of the rhythm that Pitt generated. However, that would’ve severely impacted the offense. You could always switch to man-to-man, but the early season flashes of that defense were not promising. Syracuse is in a really tough position right now as there seem to be no answers on how to fix the Orange defense, at least this season.
What didn’t help Syracuse defense was all the fouls the Orange gave up. Syracuse has usually been disciplined in its ACC games, without hacking away too much. However, Pitt’s offense that took a nap in the middle of the first half woke up thanks to trips at the charity stripe. The Orange made some uncharacteristic swings at shooters and were uncontrolled on close-outs to give Pitt some bailout options to generate momentum. Sure, the open threes and offensive rebounds hurt the Orange. What equally hurt was an undisciplined game.
Benny Williams returned to the starting lineup and he impacted the game in a way that he hasn’t in a Syracuse uniform. Williams had 24 points on 8-15 shooting and nine rebounds. More impressively, he was 5-6 from three. He was one of the main reasons Syracuse kept up with Pitt offensively in the first half. For the first time maybe ever in an Orange uniform, Williams found consistency with his jump shot. While it wasn’t enough to lift the Orange over the Panthers, it was an impressive showing and a much needed one for a player that had so much hype around him.