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With Syracuse amid a three-game losing streak and under .500 in January for the first time in head coach Jim Boeheim’s tenure, it looked to avoid a four-game losing streak for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
After going 4-for-15 from 3 in his past two games, Buddy Boeheim started the game out hot, using off-ball screens to find open looks. While Buddy started hot, Pittsburgh was slow to catch up, hitting its first 3-pointer after 10 minutes, but soon found its consistency. Despite Pitt finding its footing from 3, the Orange went on a long scoring run to open the second half and seal a much-needed victory.
Here are four observations from Syracuse’s (8-8, 2-3 Atlantic Coast) 77-61 win over Pittsburgh (6-10, 1-4 ACC) on Tuesday:
Buddy going off from … screens
Entering tonight’s game, Buddy was struggling from beyond the arc making just four 3s in two games against Miami and Wake Forest. After the loss to Wake Forest, Boeheim mentioned that Buddy was the only one going and getting shots, but often tough shots. But against Pitt, the Orange appeared to have found a new way to get Buddy open looks. Syracuse went to Buddy often and early. After a long 3, the Panthers began to chase Buddy around the court, leading to him using ball screens to find space.
As Symir Torrence brought the ball up the court, Buddy quickly ran from the paint and past a screen from Jesse Edwards with his hands up. Torrence swung him the ball, and Buddy caught the pass and rose up to drain a 3, with his defender struggling to keep up.
After another off-screen 3, it looked like Pitt realized its mistake and followed Buddy around the court. Buddy tried to use a screen to get an open corner, but when he looked up, he was blanketed by his defender, so Buddy dribbled back out to the wing to find some space. He motioned for Edwards to come up for a screen. As the center trotted up to him, Buddy threw a quick pass to Edwards, who used his large frame to set a pick on Buddy’s defender. Edwards returned the pass to Buddy, who drained the open 3.
By halftime, Buddy led all scorers with 14 points and four made 3-pointers.
Pitt cold to hot from 3
The Panthers’ offense has not started the season well, ranking 301st in effective field goal percentage according to KenPom. This year, Pitt has preferred to go inside for shots rather than take 3s. Its tendency to look inside appeared to continue in tonight’s game as Pitt missed its first six 3-pointers.
The Panthers air balled a 3, had 3s blocked and were forced to rush a deep 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down. It took Pittsburgh almost 10 minutes to score its first shot from deep. But soon, the Panthers’ fortunes began to turn.
The Orange were leading by eight, their largest lead of the half, when Jamarius Burton hit his first 3 of the game. Soon, the 3s began to pile up, and Femi Odukale gave the Panthers the lead four minutes later with a 3-pointer. Odukale would hit another 3 two minutes later to give the Panthers a seven-point lead.
The Panthers ended the first half 5-for-6 from deep as they slowly began to match Buddy’s proficiency from 3 to chip away at Syracuse’s lead.
Inside run propels Syracuse
After Odukale gave Pittsburgh its biggest lead of the game, Syracuse embarked on a run to not only retake the lead, but also establish a dominant lead of its own. It began with Joe Girard III pump faking a corner 3 and then driving the baseline before hanging in the air to get around his defender and lay the ball in.
Girard then added two free throws before Cole Swider and Buddy added jumpers to bring SU within one. Then, on the last possession of the half, Swider drove to the paint, drawing two defenders. He passed to Frank Anselem open in the paint, and Anselem missed the layup. But Jimmy Boeheim fought through traffic for a putback layup that just beat the halftime buzzer to give Syracuse a one-point lead.
The 10-2 run to finish the half would give the Orange a slender lead, but the run out of halftime would build a significantly larger one. All five starters would score a bucket to open the second half, but notably, during this run, Syracuse’s points all came from inside the arc. The Orange increased their run to 28-7 before Jimmy lasered a cross-court pass to Buddy in the corner. The pass was a little wide, but Buddy tipped it to himself and then launched a fadeaway 3 that bounced up on the rim before falling in.
By the time Buddy’s 3 bounced in, Syracuse’s lead had grown to 15 as the Orange slowly began to pull away.
John Hugley scored a career-high 32 points and drew 10 fouls against Boston College. Against Syracuse, Hugley found space under the basket hard to come by.
On Syracuse’s large run out of halftime, Pittsburgh struggled to keep up. The Panthers’ only offense came from the free-throw line. Pitt didn’t hit a field goal until 10:44 to go in the second half, with nine straight misses. The Orange often forced Hugley to the top of the paint, where Edwards would use his height to force Hugley to pass the ball rather than shoot.
Edwards had fouled out of the past four games, so Hugley’s ability to draw fouls might have been an area to exploit for Pitt. But Edwards managed his fouls much better tonight, often standing still with his arms up rather than jumping to contest shots. That is until he picked up four fouls in the last nine minutes and fouled out. But at that point, the game had already been decided. Hugley did take four trips to the line, going 6-for-8, but almost all of Hugley’s points came from the charity stripe as he made just one field goal all game, while Syracuse’s run on the other end would put the game out of reach for Pitt.
The post Observations from Syracuse’s 77-61 win over Pittsburgh appeared first on The Daily Orange.