Big Lead Sports Bar



No other sports organization has toyed with my expectations like the Pitt Panthers, be it in basketball or football. When you're ready for them to take the next step, in steps Scottie Reynolds. When you're prepared for the worst, 13-9 comes along. They play head games like none other.

Keeping that in mind, this season has so far been one of greatly lowered expectations for the Pitt Panthers basketball team. They lost Dejuan Blair, they lost Sam Young, they lost Levance Fields, they lost Tyrell Biggs. They were missing Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown for the early portion of the schedule. The program that was #1 in the country at one point last year has not gotten a vote in the AP or ESPN/USA Today polls through seven weeks. Reality had set in. Or so we thought.

As far as reality-checks go, a trip to the Carrier Dome usually lets you know where you stand, but who knows what to expect for this Pitt team after an 82-72 win over the 5th-ranked Syracuse Orange on Saturday.

The surging Ashton Gibbs scored 24 points, Dixon added a career-high 21, and Brad Wanamaker contributed 12 to lead the Panthers to their highest point output of the 2009-10 season.

Syracuse was a woeful 1-for-13 from three-point territory, including a 1-for-6 effort from guard Andy Rautins. Wes Johnson, with 19 points, was the only Syracuse starter who scored in double figures, although guard Scoop Jardine did add 15 points off the bench.

The Orange got into foul trouble in the second half, and that would eventually contribute to their downfall. The Panthers would hit 24 of 32 free throws over the final 20 minutes, a time span in which Syracuse committed 19 fouls.

Pitt, the Big East's top defensive team at 55.9 PPG, held Syracuse, the league's highest-scoring team, 15 points below their average. They also held the Orange to 42% shooting from the floor - 12% below their season average. As Gibbs said, "We played as a team. We played tough defense and we rebounded the ball towards the end of the game. That's what we needed. Coaches stressed that in pregame."

The 12-2 Panthers will be back in action on Monday night at 10-3 Cincinnati. Two of the three Bearcats losses this season have been in overtime, to Gonzaga and Xavier. Hopefully the Panthers can enact a bit of revenge on behalf of their football-playing classmates.

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Unknown said...

two words: good coaching

Anonymous said...

It will be great to watch Syracuse Orange, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.