Everything was going so well for the Orange in the first fifteen minutes of their ACC tournament game against Pitt at the Verizon Center. Then, it all unraveled and Syracuse found itself from up ten points to trailing at halftime en route to a 72-71 loss to Pittsburgh.
Syracuse was able to capitalize on the Panthers cold start. The Orange led most of the first half and held a ten point lead with just over five minutes to go before the break. Then, the roles reversed as Syracuse went ice cold from the field and the Panthers were able to chip away at the lead, ultimately taking a two point lead at halftime.
The second half picked up where the first left off. Syracuse’s offense could not find its rhythm and, slowly, the Panthers felt their way through the 2-3 zone. Michael Gbinije was forced to carry the Syracuse offense for most of the game, getting occasional help from a Trevor Cooney three before he was benched in the second half. Gbinije finished the game with 24 points on 9-17 shooting.
Syracuse made a game of it late, fighting all the way back to tie the game in the final minute. DaJaun Coleman was certainly the catylst of the late game comeback. He finished with a double-double, 11 points and 11 boards. Cooney came off of the bench and took the last shot which rattled off the rim and ended the game.
This loss means that the Orange are likely NIT-bound. It is hard to justify putting Syracuse into the NCAA tournament, especially because the committee weighs how a team closed out the season. The Orange lost five of its last six games, including two to Pitt.
However, Syracuse certainly gave themselves a shot at making it to the big dance by fighting so hard and making a game out of it against Pitt.
Ultimately, this roster is a borderline NCAA tournament roster. There is very little depth and when the offense is one-dimensional. Throw that on top of a defense that is a one-trick pony and you have a mediocre basketball team.
Of course, it isn’t over until it’s over. Syracuse still has a glimmer of hope, but there is every reason to think that Syracuse will be on the wrong side of the bubble come Selection Sunday.