The No. 6-ranked Syracuse Orange dropped their second straight Big East game, a 65-55 decision, to the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Syracuse, now 6-2 in conference play, dropped out of a first-place tie with the Marquette Golden Eagles.
The Pete has been a house of horrors for Syracuse. The Orange have dropped five in a row there dating back to their last win in 2004 and are 2-9 overall in their last 11 regular-season meetings against the Panthers.
Pittsburgh improved its all-time mark against teams ranked in the Top 10 to 13-1 with the victory over the Orange.
The Panthers, playing in front of a raucous crowd, were a model of offensive efficiency. Ten players scored. But only one, Tray Woodall with 13 points, reached double figures and that wasn’t until the closing minutes of the game.
Pittsburgh shared the ball exceptionally well, too, notching 19 assists on 24 baskets, while the Orange only mustered five assists for entire game.
Although Pitt committed 19 turnovers, they were able to neutralize the extra Syracuse possessions by dominating the Orange on the backboards, 37-21, including a 14-8 edge on the offensive glass.
The Panthers’ advantage in the rebounding department was critical in keeping Syracuse out of transition and dictating the pace of the game. While Pitt excelled in their half-court sets, Syracuse struggled mightily.
After dropping a second straight Big East game, will Syracuse still win the Big East?
The two teams played a tightly-contested first half which Pitt led by two, 27-25, at the break.
Pittsburgh’s biggest advantage, its depth, took its toll on the Orange in the second half.
By the time the game concluded, the Panthers' bench had outscored the Syracuse reserves by a 31-3 margin. Baye Keita and Trevor Cooney were the only substitutes called on by Jim Boeheim the entire game.
Senior sharp-shooter James Southerland missed his fifth-straight game after he was declared academically ineligible by Syracuse prior to its January 12th win over Villanova.
Southerland, who averages 13.5 points per game and shoots 37.5 percent from beyond the three-point arc, has been a critical missing component to the Orange’s offense.
In his five-game absence, Southerland’s teammates have connected on only 25 of 75 of their three-point attempts. Cooney, the redshirt freshman who was a prolific shooter in high school, has struggled to the tune of 29 percent on threes in his first campaign with the Orange.
Syracuse was also without freshman DaJuan Coleman, who underwent knee surgery recently. Coleman is expected to be sidelined for the next month. The burly frosh averages 4.4 rebounds per game in only 14 minutes of play. The Orange could have used his size in the paint, as they struggled rebounding the ball against the tough, physical Panthers.
Syracuse returns to the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome, where it owns the longest home winning streak in the nation at 35 games, on Monday night for a clash with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.