Syracuse avoids upset by Pitt at buzzer
PITTSBURGH — This time, Syracuse didn’t get derailed by Pittsburgh.
Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis’ 3-point field goal at the buzzer enabled No. 1 Syracuse to beat No. 25 Pittsburgh 58-56 on Wednesday night as the Orange set a school record with their 24th consecutive victory.
Twice in the previous four seasons, Syracuse had double-digit winning streaks stopped by Pitt. It almost happened again as the Panthers led by as many as nine points in the second half.
Pitt had gone ahead 56-55 when senior center Talib Zanna made two free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining. After a Pitt timeout, Syracuse inbounded the ball to Ennis and he hit a running 40-footer despite being double-teamed by guards Cameron Wright and Josh Newkirk.
“I’ve been in those situations before but never at this level,” Ennis said. “It was exciting. It was a big win for us. When you fall behind by as many as we did against a team of that magnitude in a very difficult environment, you just aren’t going to win a game like this very often.”
Syracuse (24-0, 11-0 ACC) was down nine points with 14:59 remaining, but Ennis put the Orange ahead 55-54 when he knocked down two free throws with 10 seconds to go. Syracuse had drawn within one point at 54-53 on Fair’s 3-pointer with 52 seconds left, setting up the wild finish.
“When you have players who can make plays, you always have a chance to win,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “C.J. made a huge shot and then Tyler made an even bigger shot. We probably used up our allotment of big plays there at the end, but it feels good to get a win here.”
It was a difficult loss for Pitt (20-5, 8-4), which lost for the third time in its last five games and likely saw any hope of winning the ACC regular-season title end.
“If they take that shot at the end of the game 10 times, I’d say all 10 times that it wouldn’t go in,” Pitt senior forward Lamar Patterson said. “We played a good game. We did the things we needed to do to win. They made a big shot to win the game. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Fair led Syracuse with 14 points while Ennis finished with 12 points and five assists and sophomore guard Trevor Cooney had 11 points.
Zanna, who has been hampered by a sore ankle in recent weeks, scored a game-high 16 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in helping Pitt hold a 35-24 edge on the boards. Patterson added 14 points after being held to a season-low five on 1-of-9 shooting Saturday in a double-overtime win over Virginia Tech.
Syracuse broke a record that had stood for nearly a century as the Orange ran off 23 wins in a row during a stretch that spanned the 1916-17 and 1917-18 seasons.
Pitt outscored Syracuse 10-4 at the start of the second half to move in front by nine points, 37-28, on a 3-point field goal by Patterson.
However, Syracuse came back to tie the score at 45-45 on Cooney’s 3-point field goal with 6:55 left.
Pitt scored five consecutive points to go ahead 50-45. Zanna converted a three-point play with 6:49 to go and freshman forward Jamel Artis made a pair of free throws 43 seconds later, but the Panthers couldn’t hold off Syracuse.
NOTES: Syracuse reserve senior C Baye Moussa Keita was not in uniform after injuring his knee on Sunday in a win over Clemson. The Orange, who used just six players, are hopeful of getting Keita back Saturday when they host North Carolina State. … Syracuse has failed to score at least 70 points in eight of its last nine games. … Syracuse swept the season series as it also notched a 59-54 home win on Jan. 18. … Pitt visits North Carolina on Saturday. … Pitt was presented with a welcoming surfboard from the Maui Invitational tournament committee during a first-half timeout. The Panthers will participate in the eight-team event Nov. 24-26 at Lahaina, Hawaii, along with Arizona, Brigham Young, Kansas State, Missouri, Purdue, San Diego State and host Chaminade.
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