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Syracuse and Pittsburgh Battle for the Second Time in Two Weeks

Syracuse’s Jesse Edwards (14, white) soars for a slam on Pittsburgh guard Femi Odukale (2, yellow) in SU’s 77-61 victory on Jan. 11th.
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Syracuse’s Jesse Edwards (14, white) soars for a slam on Pittsburgh guard Femi Odukale (2, yellow) in SU’s 77-61 victory on Jan. 11th.

Little has gone in favor of Syracuse men’s basketball this month. WAER’s Joe Puccio illustrates how SU can get back on track against a familiar foe.

14 days removed from a Syracuse (9-10, 3-5 in Atlantic Coast Conference) win inside the Dome, Pittsburgh (7-11, 2-5 in Atlantic Coast Conference) hosts SU for a chance at redemption. It’s been tough sledding for SU men’s basketball. In January, the Orange have lost four games by single digits and only snagged two wins in seven conference matchups. Their next opponent happens to be one of the two squads the ‘Cuse bested this month.

In SU’s win over Pittsburgh on Jan. 11, defense defined the victory. The Orange held the Panthers to just 27 points in the second half. In the eyes of Coach Boeheim, the offense kept his team afloat.

“If Buddy didn’t make some really long threes, we would’ve been down 10 or 12 points at halftime,” said Jim Boeheim following the win over Pittsburgh two weeks ago. “Offensively, we got some good situations. Jimmy got some good post situations and our ball movement was better.”

The Boeheim brothers paved the way for the SU victory. Buddy led the team with 24 points and Jimmy was right behind him with 18. Coach Boeheim wasn’t kidding when talking about Buddy’s three-point mirage.

It was a massive win for Syracuse because it was the Orange’s first victory of the New Year.

“The last four losses we’ve had have all been really close games,” forward Cole Swider said after the Jan. 11th win. “We have a team that can go on a run here and I’m just looking forward to getting better with this team.”

Syracuse forward Cole Swider (white) dashes past Pittsburgh guard Jamarius Burton (yellow) in SU’s 77-61 victory on Jan. 11th. Swider finished with 10 points in the contest.
Cuse.com
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Syracuse forward Cole Swider (white) dashes past Pittsburgh guard Jamarius Burton (yellow) in SU’s 77-61 victory on Jan. 11th. Swider finished with 10 points in the contest.

Swider was optimistic, but his dreams didn’t play out. SU hasn’t won since. Syracuse traveled down Tobacco Road on Saturday and was silenced by Duke’s lockdown defense. Buddy Boeheim was held to single-digits for the fourth time this season. The Orange posted 22 points in the first half and it wasn’t something Coach Boeheim was the most concerned with.

“We can’t shoot two of 16 [from downtown]” said Coach Boeheim after Saturday’s loss to Duke. “I can show you ten pretty open looks that we got in the first half that we can make.”

Syracuse was hopeless against one of the best teams in the country. Pittsburgh is anything but the cream of the crop. Pitt was manhandled by Clemson on Saturday by 27 points, its worst loss of the season. Both squads have fallen below expectations, especially for the squad in Central New York. The Orange have struggled mightily on both ends of the floor since the ACC schedule heated up. Battling a squad they dominated two weeks ago is a great place to start when aiming to turn the tides.

Tipoff in Western Pennsylvania is scheduled for 8 p.m. this Tuesday. Our coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with GZA Countdown to Tipoff.