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Syracuse Snaps Losing Skid with 77-61 Win over Pittsburgh

 Buddy Boeheim (white, center) shoots a three in a 77-61 win over Pitt. Boeheim led the Orange with 24 points.
Cuse.com
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Buddy Boeheim (white, center) shoots a three in a 77-61 win over Pitt. Boeheim led the Orange with 24 points.

Syracuse men's basketball snapped a three-game losing skid on Tuesday night with a 77-61 win over Pitt. WAER’s Kyle Loughran takes a look at how the Orange pulled away from the Panthers.

Syracuse (8-8, 2-3 ACC) pulled away from Pittsburgh (6-10, 1-4 ACC) in the second half to win 77-61 and snap a three-game losing streak in the process on Tuesday night.

It was a shaky first half for the Orange who held just a one-point lead at the break, but S-U ratcheted up the defensive intensity after halftime to come out victorious over the Panthers.

“The second half was a completely huge turnaround,” said Coach Jim Boeheim. “Our defense was by far the best it's been all year movement-wise [and] coverage-wise.”

In the second half, Syracuse held Pitt to just 23% shooting after the Panthers had knocked down 50% of their shots in the opening 20 minutes. That stingy effort also included an 11-minute field goal drought for Pitt that began just before halftime and lasted over the first nine minutes of the second half. The Orange outscored the Panthers 27-9 over that stretch, building a 15-point lead that they did not relinquish.

Another key to Syracuse’s defense was its ability to control the paint. After allowing 14 points in the paint in the first half, the Orange held the Panthers to just two in the second frame.

“We stopped penetration,” Coach Boeheim said. “Buddy [Boeheim], [Symir Torrence], and Joe [Girard] were much better at stopping penetration and keeping people in front and trying to take the high post away, and we made some steals there. Again, our defense was much better, Jesse [Edwards] was much better in the second half.”

Symir Torrence (left, number 10) and Buddy Boeheim (right, number 35) get back on defense against Pitt. The duo combined for four steals in the win.
Cuse.com
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Symir Torrence (left, number 10) and Buddy Boeheim (right, number 35) get back on defense against Pitt. The duo combined for four steals in the win.

Although Edwards fouled out of a fifth straight contest, the junior center still managed to block three shots and pull down eight rebounds. Edwards also limited Pitt star big man John Hugley to just eight points in 28 minutes. The sophomore had been averaging over 15 points per game and was coming off a dominant 32 point, 13 rebound outing in a victory over Boston College on Saturday.

“He’s a beast,” said Edwards about Hugley. “It was tough to guard him and we knew that coming in, so I had help with my forwards behind me. They were always there to come and double if he drove to the rim, so we had a good setup to try to contain him.”

Despite fouling out, Edwards was not in foul trouble for the better part of the game. The Amsterdam native was not whistled for a single foul in the first half and picked up four of his five fouls in the final nine minutes of the contest when Syracuse led by double figures.

Part of the reason why is because Jim Boeheim was unhappy with Edwards’ defensive efforts in the first half, benching him in favor of John Bol Ajak for a short period of time before the break. However, the Dutch big man bounced back after halftime and credited his lack of early foul trouble as a reason for his defensive success, since it allowed him to be more aggressive on the defensive end.

“I was able to just play with a little bit more risk in the second half,” Edwards said.

On the offensive end, Syracuse was boosted by a red-hot Buddy Boeheim. The senior racked up 24 points on just 13 shots, knocking down five of his eight triples which tied a season-high.

Jimmy Boeheim added 18 points, the third time in four games that the Cornell transfer has reached the 18-point plateau. Jesse Edwards and Cole Swider both scored in double digits as well, with 12 and 10 points respectively. As a team, the Orange shot 51% from the field and got to the line 31 times, making 21 free throws.

The Syracuse men look to make it back-to-back wins on Saturday afternoon against Florida State, but before then, WAER has coverage of the Syracuse women's basketball team when the Orange visit the #3 Louisville Cardinals on Thursday night beginning at 6:30 p.m. with GZA Countdown to Tipoff.