PITTSBURGH – In a back-and-forth battle between the #6/6 Orange (18-3, 6-2) and #rv/rv Pittsburgh (18-6,6-4), the Orange fell short, 65-55, at the Petersen Events Center on Saturday afternoon.
Junior C.J. Fair led the offense with 20 points. Senior Brandon Triche and sophomore Michael Carter-Willaims joined Fair in double digit figures, recording 14 and 13 points, respectively. Freshman Jerami Grant tallied a team-high five rebounds in his first career start for the Orange.
Syracuse used an early 6-0 run led by Fair, who had five point,s to construct a seven-point lead at 12-5 with 12:48 remaining in the opening frame. Responding, the Panthers closed in on the SU advantage, as a pair of back-to-back jumpers put Pittsburgh within two points at 12-10, before tying the score at 14-14 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the half.
The Orange quickly pulled away after a free throw from Grant and a slam dunk from Carter-Williams helped to rebuild the Syracuse lead at 18-14. With the score even at 18-18, a three-pointer from Tray Woodall put Pittsburgh ahead, but SU continued to battle, re-tying the score at 25-25. With less than two minutes remaining in the half and the score still knotted, Talib Zanna connected on a dunk to put the Panthers ahead 27-25 heading into the intermission.
After trailing early in the second half, Syracuse tied the score again, 35-35, with 12:36 remaining, following a layup from Triche. The Panthers then pushed ahead by as much as nine points at 48-39 with 7:20 left to play and the Orange never got back on top.
Fair trimmed the advantage to seven points with an easy bucket, but Steven Adams set the score at 50-41 with 5:01 remaining in the game. The Panthers held on to a steady seven-point lead as the clock dipped below three minutes and extended the margin to 10 by the game's end, 65-55.
Woodall led the Pittsburgh offense with 13 points, while Talib Zanna logged a game-high 12 rebounds.
Grant stepped into the starting lineup in place of freshman DaJuan Coleman, who had knee surgery this week. It was only the second starting five employed by Coach Jim Boeheim this season.
Syracuse will return to action on Monday, Feb. 4, hosting Notre Dame at home in the Carrier Dome. Tip time is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the matchup will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.