Despite Tyus Battle not scoring for nearly 30 minutes, Syracuse pulled out at 65-56 win over Pitt. This is moves the Orange’s conference record to 7-2 and, maybe more impressively, its road record to 5-1. The win gives SU the season sweep over the Panthers for the second straight season.
Syracuse had the first half on cruise control and entered the break with a 13 point lead. This all came despite the Orange’s two leading scorers, Battle and Elijah Hughes, combining for 3 points on 1-for-9 shooting. But defensively, Syracuse locked down. They held Pitt to its season low for points in a first half with 22.
The second half made SU show some perseverance. Pitt pulled within three and pulled a raucous Oakland Zoo crowd into the game. But a couple of Frank Howard threes helped extend the Orange lead back into double digits, where it would hover around for the remainder of the game.
For a team in the final game of a three game road trip, you’ll take any win. No matter how ugly. Both teams mucked it up at times. But that’s what the Orange needed to do to win. SU closed out the road trip 2-1, with both wins coming against clearly inferior opponents.
The Orange’s six road wins matches the program’s total over the last two seasons combined. But this game had a different formula to success. Coming into today, SU averaged 10.8 made three pointers in road games. But against Pitt, the Orange was held to just 7-for-22 shooting from distance.
Things didn’t go Syracuse’s way for a good portion of the game, yet still found a way to win on the road. That says a lot about a team that is showing it can win in a number of ways. Today, they won a messy game and used its defense to propel it to victory.
But now, the road ahead gets much tougher. Seven of Syracuse’s next nine games come against ranked teams. This is where Syracuse can firmly seal itself into the tournament field. Or risk sweating out another Sunday in March.