No big-time scorer? No problem for the Pitt Panthers.
Tray Woodall became the first and only player to reach double figures for Pitt with just :39 left in a convincing 65-55 home upset of No. 6 Syracuse, and that was OK. Pitt played a team game against the star-laden Orange, getting 31 points from a very active bench. In comparison, ‘Cuse got just three from non-starters, of which they had perhaps more than they would have liked.
Woodall, natch, led the Panthers with 13 points, getting over the double-digit hump by calmly stroking free throws in the closing seconds. Steven Adams and J.J. Moore had the highest single-digit efforts for Pitt, with eight apiece. ‘Cuse got double-figure efforts from C.J. Fair (20 points), Brandon Triche (14) and Michael Carter-Williams (13), but wasn’t able to stop the Panthers or quiet the raucous capacity crowd in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt’s evenly distributed scoring seemed to negate the usually stifling effect of Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. Syracuse laid back in the zone for much of the game, leaving Woodall free to bring the ball upcourt without hassle and pick the defense apart. When ‘Cuse finally started to press late, Pitt beat it easily with quick, decisive downcourt passes that led to easy baskets.
It was an interesting preview of what will be an ACC game next season. If ‘Cuse thinks they’re having trouble with Pitt’s transition offense, imagine what they’ll face next season, against the likes of Duke, NC State and North Carolina. Pitt, on the other hand, is vying to move back into the polls and become a contender in their final Big East season.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.