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Pitt Basketball: Panthers Outlast Orange To Remain Big East's Only Undefeated Team

Gilbert Brown #5 of the Pittsburgh Panthers drives to the basket against the Syracuse Orange (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Gilbert Brown #5 of the Pittsburgh Panthers drives to the basket against the Syracuse Orange (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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And then there was one.

Pitt entered the day as one of three unbeatens in the Big East. After Villanova fell to UConn at the buzzer, the Panthers defeated Syracuse 74-66 at the Pete to remain as the sole undefeated team in the conference.

Look, this was a great win for Pitt and I'm certainly not going to downplay it. But Pitt is Pitt. They went out and did what they should have done - beat a very good team at home that was also missing its best player. This game wasn't about proving that Pitt was a good team - we already knew that. It was more about taking care of business.

That's not a high and mighty attitude - anyone who follows this blog knows that I'm the farthest thing from a homer as you can get. But Pitt should have won this game and it's a very good win for the team.

The 19-0 start by Pitt was all the talk by the coaches afterward. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim after the game:

"We got off to a horrible start and Pitt got off to a great start," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We had a long way to come from back from the beginning. ... That's as good a Pitt team as I've seen. That's probably the best team we've played."

He added:

"If you're going to get behind by 19, it's better to do it early," said Boeheim, whose team rallied from 18 down to beat DePaul last season.

Jamie Dixon knew it wouldn't last:

"You know it's not going to continue," Dixon said. "I don't think anybody thought we were going to pull away for 40 minutes and shut them down completely."

Well, I didnt' expect it to last completely, but I didn't think they'd lose nearly all of that huge lead within a matter of mintues.

But going back to Boeheim...'Probably' the best team you've played? I'll let that one slide, Jimmy. Especially when he says things like this:

For Boeheim, who’s been coaching at Syracuse for 35 years, this Panthers team ranks up with the best in his tenure.

"This is as good of a Pitt team as I’ve seen," he said.

I'll reserve judgment on that as I think the 2008-09 was still the best one. That team had two NBA players on it and was the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament. This team still has some work to do.

I'll be honest - as impressive as Pitt's 19-0 start was, that 17-point run by Syracuse, considering it came on the road and immediately after Pitt's run, was probably more impressive. Pitt went cold from the field, settling for jump shots and getting away from the points in the paint that helped them build that big lead, and Syracuse was there to take advantage.

As I mentioned over at the recap at SB Nation Pittsburgh, it's someone different every night. Monday was Nasir Robinson's turn as he had 21 points and seven rebounds. He was extremely active and killed Syracuse every chance he got. Nas didn't just have 21 points - he set the tone early on:

Nasir Robinson scored the first nine points of the game and finished with a season-high 21 points on 8 for 12 shooting.

We've seen this before from Nas. He's not usually a scorer, but went on a similar tear last year against Louisville when he had 26 points. He doesn't get into double figures all that often, but sometimes he has these breakout games and is capable of getting involved in the offense as well.

Nas was just in the zone all night long:

"I was relaxed. My teammates found me, and I just finished the plays," Robinson said. "Once I got a good rhythm, I just kept rolling."

Pitt looked good on Monday night - real good. Final Four good?

We'll see.