Syracuse runs out of gas, suffers 83-77 loss to Pittsburgh

first_imgPITTSBURGH — Bible scriptures, breakfast, a team meeting, then mac and cheese. Naptime, then basketball.The scriptures change regularly, but the post-meeting meal doesn’t. For Kaleb Joseph, the first game day since Syracuse announced a self-imposed postseason ban was hardly different. In fact, for him and the rest of the Orange on Saturday was better than most.Jim Boeheim wasn’t any slower to yank players off the court for mistakes — B.J. Johnson for not covering his corner of the zone, Joseph for traveling — but they all seemed to play faster, more freely. And for much of the evening, his players looked more like the unblinking program that’s lit up arenas around the country for the past several seasons than the mechanical, bench-less SU team that’s struggled through much of this season.The latter kind of Orange team wasn’t on the floor in front of 12,508 at the Petersen Events Center on Saturday night. But as SU (15-8, 6-4 Atlantic Coast) failed to slow down a hot-shooting Pittsburgh (16-8, 5-5) team down the stretch, Boeheim’s team was once again a losing one, 83-77 — despite one of its best showings of the season.“We played better tonight than in three or four games in the league that we won,” Boeheim said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWith Rakeem Christmas winning a long tip back to Joseph, Syracuse’s game against Pittsburgh on Saturday began like so many have for the Orange this year.On the game’s first possession, Christmas tried backing down his man. On SU’s first half-court defensive possession, the 2-3 zone kept the Panthers stuck on the perimeter.The ban wasn’t changing the basketball game, just the number of them left in the season. When Joseph’s 3 gave Syracuse 57-53 lead with 12:03 left in the game, SU looked headed for its best ACC win of the season.As another deflected Pitt pass bounced out of bounds, sending both teams to their benches for a media timeout 21 seconds later. The arena filled with chants of “Let’s Go Orange” from traveling members of Otto’s Army.“I said before the game, you have to play for each other,” SU guard Trevor Cooney said. “That’s how we should be playing, really.”Syracuse was showing off previously untapped weapons.Ron Patterson ran the floor well, controlled the top of the zone and punctuated his 16-minute showing with an alley-oop to Christmas. Even Johnson contributed in seven minutes, recovering from early defensive struggles to contribute.“When you’re in one of those modes and just playing off instincts,” Johnson said, “you’re out there and it’s good.”But like nearly every team Syracuse has faced this season, the Panthers had more weapons. They played nine players to SU’s seven. Sheldon Jeter is only averaging about 10 minutes per game, but he dropped 18 points in 23 minutes, scoring 15 points in 15 second half minutes.His putback with 30 seconds remaining gave Pittsburgh an 82-77 lead. It ultimately left Joseph to take a 3 in desperation, down by six with 16 seconds to play.Jeter stopped that too, and Joseph’s shot fell three feet short of the rim.“The biggest thing is just realizing it’s a basketball season, there’s always going to be a lot of ups and downs,” Joseph said.It’s just that the biggest down of SU’s season was followed by one of its greatest ups. And that was a loss, too. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 7, 2015 at 6:28 pm Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_last_img

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