Pitt falls to Syracuse 60-55; ACC-worst 0-9
(Pittsburgh,Pa) The Petersen Events Center was full of nostalgia as the Pitt Panthers welcomed their longtime rival, the Syracuse Orange with hopes of the Panthers finally winning their first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the 2017-18 season. The Panthers honored one of their legends Jerome Lane on the 30th Anniversary of his famous dunk that shattered the backboard at the old Fitzgerald Field House which prompted ESPN’s Bill Rafferty to shout the phrase “Send it in Jerome!”
On this date in 1988…. SEND IT IN, JEROME! pic.twitter.com/H4kBvzBuV8
— ESPN (@espn) January 25, 2018
Pitt also honored Lane by inviting him to the game as well as several other Panther legends (Charles Smith, Curtis Aiken, Sam Clancy etc..) as they were recognized at halftime. The current Panthers team also honored past players by wearing their numbers on their warmup shirts. Pitt also wore retro uniforms as a tip of respect to that 1988 team that dominated the Big East.
But unfortunately, the nostalgic festivities weren’t enough as the Panthers lost 60-55. It completes a regular-season sweep by the Orange as they also beat the Panthers 59-45 at the Carrierdome. The Panthers gave it the ‘Ol College try, but like their previous losses, their effort just wasn’t good enough to get the win.
“We don’t ever take any consolation in losing. … We play the games to win.”-Said Pitt HC Kevin Stallings in refence to losing close games.
Pitt did get off to a strong start against the Orange by punching them in the mouth en route to an 8-3 lead, and then pushed their lead to 14-6. Junior Guard Jared Wilson-Frame was the fire-starter on that run that had the Orange head coach Jim Boeheim and Syracuse shaking their heads before they called a timeout.
Pitt held their lead for most of the first half before they began looking like the team that lost 8 straight this season: Missing baskets, turning the ball over and demonstrating poor defense. The Orange went on a run that saw them take a 17-15 lead with 6:40 left in the first half. After Pitt tied the game, the Orange went on a 5- 0 run before Panthers guard Marcus Carr hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to bring Pitt to within 22-20.
After Carr brought it to 47-43 on a 3-pointer, Orange guard Tyus Battle added a 3 extending the “Cuse” lead to 50-43. The now struggling Panthers tried their best to fight back, but the Orange would prove to be better securing the 60-55 win.
Sidibe lead the Orange with 18 points, and 16 rebounds as a huge presence in the paint. Battle added 14 helping Syracuse improve to 15-6 Overall and 4-4 in the ACC.
On Pitt’s struggles this season, Boeheim replied “You just can’t win in this league playing those guys.” In referene to having a team composed to mostly freshmen.
“Those of you who are here frequently probably get tired of hearing this, but I couldn’t be any prouder of my team. “My barometer has to be how we’re progressing and I think we’re getting better. “-Said Stallings regarding his Panthers
Wilson-Frame led Pitt with 18 points and 13 rebounds. He had his hot moments, but he was very inconsistent in critical moments. Carr also played his heart out as he added 16 points and 12 assists.
The Panthers are now 8-14 Overall and 0-9 in the ACC. The last win Pittsburgh has had in the conference came last season in the ACC Tournament on March 7, 2017. That was a 61-59 upset win over Georgia Tech in the first round of the Tournament. That win was followed by a 75-63 loss to Virginia in the second round and the first loss in the now 10 game losing streak in ACC play. The young Panthers look to end the current streak as they take to the road against Miami, North Carolina and Clemson, before returning home to host Louisville on Sunday, February 11th.
Ray Porter Jr.
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