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Pitt basketball loses to Syracuse, 74-63

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Pitt men’s basketball team headed to Syracuse today for a game at the Carrier Dome and fell short in a 74-63 loss.

The game was close for a while but the Orange used a big second-half run to pull away.

Going into this one, I just wasn’t sure how Pitt would handle the game. At home, my degree of confidence probably would have been higher. But on the road in the Carrier Dome, which can be an odd place to play, I don’t know. I didn’t expect much today. I expect it’s going to be very hard for them to beat anyone ACC team on the road this year, to be honest.

I know not everyone felt that way. And part of that is how Pitt performed in an upset win over No. 11 Florida State earlier in the week. There will be those that look and say, ‘How can you beat Team X one night and lose to Team Y the next?’ But beating a better team in the ACC does not mean it will necessarily be easier to defeat a lesser team the next time out. There are, as we’ve seen already, a lot of ups and downs, not only by Pitt but by all teams in the conference.

Pitt, for their part, kept things relatively close, trailing by only three at halftime. But, then the offense went MIA and, as the North Carolina game did, things got away from them. It took Pitt 3:05 to score in the second half and, halfway through the half, the Panthers scored only five points. The points did come a little easier later and Pitt cut the lead to nine inside of 3:30, but by that point it was too late.

We’ve seen this kind of offensive inefficiency before and while Pitt’s defense isn’t necessarily bad, it’s not good enough to sustain large stretches without scoring points. I don’t know that that’s particularly unique, by the way. I don’t know how many teams can have that much trouble scoring and still win. Regardless, Pitt didn’t score and Syracuse went on a 22-6 run to begin the half. That’s your game right there.

Now, the Panthers have had trouble scoring field goals before but have sometimes been able to offset that by getting to the line. But the team had only eight made free throws on Saturday and that obviously wasn’t enough. The Panthers shot only 36% from the field and, mix in 17 turnovers, and you’ve got yourself an L.

Obviously, you look back at that drought to start the second half and realize the game could have been much closer if that didn’t happen. In that way, it’s kind of a shame. But games are 40 minutes long and going about 14 of that time while barely scoring is a difficult thing to overcome.

Next up, Pitt will have a chance to take down top-ranked Duke on Tuesday night at the Pete.

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