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Pitt vs. Syracuse: Yes, that finish happened; Panthers lose to Orange, 58-56

Justin K. Aller

Yeah, sorry, I got nothing, folks.

Pitt's 58-56 loss to Syracuse was about as agonizing as you can have. As evidenced by another poor shooting night (36% from the field), Pitt didn't play a great game. But when you outrebound your opponent by 11, you've got a shot, right.

I often say that sometimes on a final shot you have to tip your hat and move on. The Scottie Reynolds disaster was a prime example of that. This, of course, was not.

You're not obligated to tip your hat to a circus shot that goes down probably 1-10 times. The game was Pitt's to win and, well, they didn't because of a, and there's no other way to put it, lucky shot.

And yeah, let's put this to bed for the occasional belligerent Orange fan you no doubt ran into on the Twittersphere - no advantage on the officiating end was so decided that it was a deal-breaker. If Pitt would have won, it wouldn't have been because of the referees. Ditto in this case. Pitt got some bad calls, but they didn't cost the Panthers the game. Lighten up, Syracuse. Your mascot is a ginormous piece of fruit.

Take heart, Pitt fans. No team has this much good luck and continues to live to talk about it. The Orange are a very good team - a great team. But the law of averages just has to catch up with them at some point. A come from behind win against St. John's. The nailbiter against Duke. A narrow escape against Notre Dame. The two Pitt wins. Syracuse has just had everything going their way and at some point, that will start to shift.

All of that said, you really have to give Syracuse credit as a whole. Not for that piece of excrement that was the final heave by Ennis, but for the whole game. To come into Pitt with six players and walk away with a win in a rematch that they won is really just an incredible effort. Like Pitt, Syracuse played well enough to win and fortunately for them, they made one more shot.

I'm not too much into giving analysis right now, but a few things.

If you're thinking about blaming Jamie Dixon on that last play, just stop. Dixon's timeout didn't allow Syracuse to do anything more than they would have without a timeout. Set play? Really? Tyler Ennis caught the ball, ran down the court, and threw up a shot. Come on. Additionally, Pitt's defense did everything you could ask of them. They forced Ennis to make a shot that will hardly ever go down and they didn't do the one thing they couldn't, which was foul. I was fine with the timeout and the defense did their job. Case closed.

Also, one thing that sticks out again is the poor shooting. Pitt got much more out of Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna than I thought they would, but still shot well under 40%. For as much as Patterson contributed, he still shot only 5-16 from the field. Cam and Robinson were a combined 5-16 as well. Really hard to win with three of your best players making only 10 of their 32 shots and Pitt's offense has to get more efficient.

And again, just way too much three-point shooting. Pitt took 19 of them and made only six. For some reason, this team continues to think they're hot from beyond the arc. At some point, you have to pass on even the wide open looks there because of the percentages.

Equally disappointing was that Pitt refused to hold big leads (big for this game, anyway). Not only did Pitt practically lead the entire game, but they had a seven-point lead in the first half, a nine-point lead in the second half, and another six-point lead with only two minutes left. Despite several chances to extend the lead, Pitt just couldn't do more.

Pitt really needed this one, obviously, but not much you can do. If you're looking for positives, look to Zanna's clutch free throws late. Or the fact that Zanna and Patterson are both (apparently, anyway) healthy. With both of those guys, Pitt will win more games than they lose and getting them both back to normal is a welcome sight.

But yeah, this sucks.

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