Pitt’s road victory at Syracuse on Wednesday was a momentous occasion for the program for a number of reasons. Most notably, it marked the end of a seven-game losing streak against the Orange for the Panthers and saw them notch their first win at the Carrier Dome since 2016. But the game also saw Pitt point guard Xavier Johnson reach a milestone, as he scored the 1,000th point of his career.
Johnson hit the 1,000-point mark on a three-point shot in the opening moments of the second half, with Pitt down 32-18. The shot came after Johnson collected a pass from Ithiel Horton, and with a bit of space in front of him, he heaved the triple up and over the outstretched hand of Syracuse point guard Joe Girard III to cut the Orange's advantage down to 32-21 and provide Pitt with a spark.
That spark would last long enough to reinsert the Panthers into a matchup they seemed to have given up on in the first half, and Johnson's shot proved to be the opening salvo of a 15-6 run that brought the score to 38-33. And while the Panthers would not take the lead until the last seconds of the game, as was the case in their recent comeback win over Northwestern, the scoring run gave them new life.
Johnson’s second-half play was essential in Pitt’s comeback, as his limited contributions in the opening frame hindered the team. After posting just one steal, one turnover and two fouls in the first half, X came alive, recording 12 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two more steals in the final 20 minutes. And while the Orange fought the Panthers until the end, with Robert Braswell notably catching fire from beyond the arc, the home team appeared overwhelmed and unequal to the task at hand in the waning minutes of the contest.
When all was said and done, Pitt had come away with a 63-60 win, and that had everything to do with Johnson, as he came up with three assists, five points and one steal in the last three minutes of the game. The three assists led to six points, and Johnson's own five points came on a three and two free-throws that he made with two seconds left on the clock. And the free-throws were awarded when he was fouled after stealing a botched inbounds pass from Syracuse small forward Marek Dolezaj, putting the game on ice for the Panthers.
With Wednesday’s game in the books, Johnson now has 1,010 points over the course of 74 games in his Pitt career for an average of 13.6 points per game. He is the 47th Pitt player to reach the 1,000-point threshold and is tied with Demetreus Gore as the 13th-fastest to reach 1,000 points. However, shifting the focus to the program’s more recent history, since 1995, only two Panthers have amassed 1,000 faster, and those players are Vonteego Cummings (69 games) and Ricardo Greer (70 games).