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Syracuse strives to get back on track against Pittsburgh

Syracuse's Joe Girard drives to the basket in SU's 63-60 loss to Pittsburgh on January 6, 2021.
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Syracuse's Joe Girard drives to the basket in SU's 63-60 loss to Pittsburgh on January 6, 2021.

Syracuse enters its game against Pittsburgh in a position it has never been under Jim Boeheim. After losing to Wake Forest 77-74 in overtime Saturday, the Orange are under .500 through 15 games for the first time in the storied 46-year career of the head coach.

The loss marks the third consecutive defeat for SU in conference play. When the Orange take on the Panthers on Tuesday, Boeheim’s team will be looking for their first ACC victory since December 4th. SU has lost its last two games by a combined four points.

“We’re doing enough to win both these games [Miami and Wake Forest],” said head coach Jim Boeheim postgame Saturday. “Wake Forest is really good. I thought we played well.”

When things go as ugly as a 7-8 record would indicate, there’s more than one reason why. Against Miami, it was a poor defensive effort; 58 second half points allowed that led to the one-point loss. Against Wake Forest, it had more to do with the lack of production from SU’s veteran players. Preseason First Team All-ACC selection Buddy Boeheim looked far from what that honor would indicate Saturday, shooting just 5 for 20. In the senior’s last six games against Power 6 opponents, Boeheim has shot a mere 31 percent from the field. The guard’s 32 percent clip from three is far from what SU had hoped for. Joe Girard wasn’t any better in a 3 for 12 performance in the OT loss. It was his worst field goal percentage game (25 percent) with at least 10 shots all season. SU goes as its shooters go.

Syracuse's Buddy Boeheim eludes a defender in SU's 96-76 loss to Pittsburgh on January 16, 2021.
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Syracuse's Buddy Boeheim eludes a defender in SU's 96-76 loss to Pittsburgh on January 16, 2021.

The Orange have had problems come and go during the skid. One constant issue: Jesse Edwards has fouled out in each of the last four games. It’s no coincidence that the latter three are all losses.

“Today I had two stupid fouls…ticky-tack fouls, I can avoid those,” said Edwards postgame Saturday. “That’s the main focus [to get rid of].”

After a career high 22 points, against Miami, Edwards fouled out in a six-point performance Saturday with nine minutes left in regulation.

The good news looking ahead? Pitt is an atrocious scoring team in every category that matters. The 6-9 Panthers rank dead-last in the ACC in points per game (62.4), field goal percentage (41 percent) and three point field goal percentage (under 31 percent). The holy trinity. The Panthers began conference play on a three game losing streak themselves, before bouncing back with a 69-67 victory Saturday against Boston College. SU and Pitt enter Tuesday with identical 1-3 conference records. The Panthers won both meetings over the Orange in the 2020-21 season.

The fifth ACC game of the season for the Orange is slated for 7:00pm Tuesday night in the Carrier Dome. WAER’s coverage begins with Countdown to Tipoff at 6:30.