Needed that: Pitt knocks off Syracuse, 65-55

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Well, that one will help a bit, folks.

Look, the first thing to keep in mind is that Pitt's 65-55 win over Syracuse should be kept a bit in perspective. Without James Southerland and DaJuan Coleman, the Orange were playing a bit short-handed here. A team rolling out only seven players going up against perhaps one of the deepest teams in the nation on their home court is at a clear disadvantage.

That said, let's not pretend as if Syracuse is a garbage squad without them. Coleman is a contributor, but not one of the team's best players. He's a 6'9" 300-lb. freshman, shooting only 43% from the field, tallying a handful of points and rebounds a game. Southerland, on the other hand, is a major contributor for Syracuse and is second on the team in scoring. But again, this is a good team without him. This is the same Syracuse team that beat both ranked Cincinnati and Louisville without his services.

Syracuse wasn't at full strength, but make no mistake - this is a quality win for Pitt.

The Panthers are now 18-5. Just as big is that they've gotten out of the rough two-game stretch against Louisville and Syracuse with a split. Here's the important thing to remember: The Louisville loss on the road doesn't hurt a bit and the Syracuse win is big. In other words, Pitt actually comes out of this two-game stretch in better shape than they did entering it, when they had won five out of six games.

Okay, a bit on the game. Pitt's depth really won it - even more so than usual. Every player that got in the game scored and James Robinson was the only one who didn't get score at least four. Talib Zanna didn't do much offensively, but led the team in 12 rebounds. Tough to take him out despite the lack of offense he's had in the Big East. Pitt's bench really clobbered Syracuse in this one. Eight for Moore, seven for Cam, six each for Zeigler and Taylor, and four for Durand. Few teams in the nation can boast that kind of depth. And Pitt absolutely murdered the Orange on the boards, 37-21 unofficially - so there's that.

There were 19 awful turnovers and Pitt again thought they were Thunder Dan Majerle hoisting up 15 three-pointers. But hey, can't be perfect, I guess.

Though there's time still left in the season, the Panthers took a big step towards the NCAA Tournament today. Barring an utter collapse, this team will get into the tourney. Pitt has one more tough stretch playing Cincinnati, Marquette, and Notre Dame all in a row, but other than that, all of the remaining games are very winnable. The Panthers would really be hard-pressed to not make the tournament at this point. They've already won 18 games and still have the Big East Tournament left. Add it all up, and Pitt should easily clearly 20 wins (including at least a .500 Big East record) with victories over some good teams including Syracuse, Georgetown, and UConn.

Sounds pretty good to me.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics.

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