Syracuse basketball opponent preview: What to know about Pittsburgh

Syracuse basketball opponent preview: What to know about Pittsburgh

first_imgIn the second installment of Syracuse-Pittsburgh this season, the Orange (18-9, 8-6 Atlantic Coast) is coming off its biggest loss of the season while the Panthers (18-7, 7-6) are fresh off a five-point double-overtime win against Wake Forest. Both teams figure to be on or near the NCAA Tournament bubble when they tip off in the Carrier Dome at 2 p.m. on Saturday, with the stakes infinitely higher than their ACC opener back on Dec. 30.Here is everything you need to know about Jamie Dixon’s ball club.All-time series: Syracuse owns a 65-42 advantage, but the Orange is only 6-13 when facing a Dixon-coached Panthers team.Last time they played: In this year’s ACC opener for both teams, Syracuse led by two with 9:20 left in the game. But in what became a brief trend for SU early in conference play, the Mike Hopkins-led Orange folded down the stretch and fell to Pitt, 72-61. Trevor Cooney and Tyler Roberson each scored 15 to lead four in double figures for Syracuse, but Jamel Artis’ near triple-double with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists were too much for SU to overcome in the end. It was the last game Syracuse was outright dominated on the boards, with Pitt grabbing 43 to Syracuse’s 25.The Pittsburgh report: Despite losing three out of its last four, Pittsburgh is still one of the top offensive teams in the ACC. The Panthers rank third behind North Carolina and Duke in points per game (78.7) and shoot a conference-best 76.4 percent from the foul line. Michael Young, who flies relatively under the radar when picking out the league’s best players, averages 16.6 points per game and 6.8 rebounds, both team-leading. The Panthers also rank 12th in the country in Kenpom.com’s offensive rebounding percentage and eighth in the nation in free-throw percentage, with an offensive efficiency rating of 113.7 that places 24th in Division I.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPittsburgh also has seven players averaging three or more rebounds per contest and nine players seeing double-digit minutes every game. Since beating the Orange on both teams’ last game of 2015, Pitt has a .500 record in conference while scoring under 65 points in its last three losses against Virginia, Miami and North Carolina. The Panthers started 14-1, but have slipped into treacherous waters in the middle of the league ahead of Saturday’s matchup in the Dome.How Syracuse beats Pittsburgh: A minus-18 rebounding margin will almost never be associated with a winning team, but Syracuse led with under 10 minutes to go even while being dominated on the boards during the teams’ last meeting. Sufficient rebounding efforts have become commonplace for the Orange and Roberson and Tyler Lydon need to have at least seven or eight rebounds each in order for SU to fare better on the glass this time. If Syracuse can neutralize Pitt’s second- and third-chance opportunities and not seem like the team that spends the most time on defense in the entire country, then the Orange could pull out a much-needed win.Numbers to know:19.7 – In its last three losses, Pittsburgh has scored an average of 59 points per game, 19.7 lower than its current season average65 – All seven of the Panthers’ losses have been games in which they have scored fewer than 65 points1 – Pitt has played in one overtime game this season, its most recent one, a 101-96 double-overtime win over Wake ForestPlayer to watch: Sheldon Jeter, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, is averaging an efficient 8.3 points and five rebounds per game in just 18 minutes per contest. He shoots over 53.7 percent from the field and 84.1 percent from the foul line. He’ll be one of the main challenges for Syracuse’s frontcourt in its quest to quell the down-low domination that took place at the Petersen Events Center. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 19, 2016 at 12:48 am Contact Matt: mcschnei@syr.edu | @matt_schneidmanlast_img

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