Gillon leads 3-point barrage, Syracuse beats Pitt 77-66
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Maybe Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim finally has solved some of the problems that plagued the Orange earlier in the season.
For the second straight game, the Orange stepped up on defense, its shooters took charge early against Pittsburgh with a daunting long-range barrage, and Syracuse cruised to a 77-66 victory over the Panthers on Saturday.
”The difference in the game was our defense,” Boeheim said. ”The first half is probably the best defense we played in I can’t remember when. We didn’t really give them any easy looks.”
John Gillon scored 20 points and matched his career high with 11 assists and Andrew White had 21 points and three blocks to pace Syracuse (10-6, 2-1 ACC), which won its second straight. The victory broke a five-game losing streak to Pittsburgh (12-4, 1-2 ACC), which had averaged 90.8 points over its previous five games.
Freshman Tyus Battle had 15 points, Tyler Lydon had 13, and Tyler Roberson had 10 rebounds and a career-high six blocks for the Orange, who shot 14 of 27 from beyond the arc.
”Especially when you’re on their home floor, if you let somebody get off to a fast start – 3 after 3 after 3 after 3 – it’s going to be hard to put out that fire,” Pitt’s Sheldon Jeter said. ”A lot of them got really hot.”
Jamel Artis finished with 23 points to lead the Panthers, who never got closer than 15 until the final three minutes. Michael Young (22.7), who entered the game leading the ACC in scoring, finished with 17 points on 6-for-15 shooting.
”There were times when our defense certainly wasn’t where it was supposed to be and wasn’t as good as it needed to be,” Pitt coach Kevin Stallings said. ”But there were also a number of occasions where we defended them pretty well, and it would get late in the shot clock and they would jump up and make one in our face. And so you just have to give them credit.”
And it was Gillon who keyed the decisive early charge, hitting two 3-pointers and notching eight assists in the first half.
”John was really, really good in his floor game,” Boeheim said. ”It was just about as good as you can get making plays and controlling the game.”
Pitt came into the game allowing 7.4 made 3-pointers per game. The Orange were 8 of 13 behind the arc in the first 13 minutes of play, bolting to a stunning 34-8 lead with 7:25 left in the opening half. Battle had a trio of 3s to lead the barrage, and White and Gillon each had a pair as Syracuse completed a 30-2 run.
”I’m just being more aggressive and smarter with my aggression,” said Gillon, who has 22 assists in the past two games. ”Just being aggressive blindly isn’t good. But when I’m getting in there and my teammates are hitting shots, it opens up so much more.”
A layup by Battle gave Syracuse a 36-8 edge before the Panthers closed the half with a 13-6 run to trail 42-21.
Artis and Young, the ACC’s top two scorers and the second-leading scoring tandem in Division I, were a combined 2 for 13 for six points in the first half as the Panthers found few openings in Syracuse’s zone defense. The Orange also registered six blocks, four by Roberson.
Pittsburgh: In a signature home win on Wednesday night, Pitt shot a season-high 61.9 percent from behind the arc and matched a season-best 13 made 3-point field goals in an overtime win over No. 11 Virginia. The Panthers were 6 of 19 against Syracuse. … Artis scored seven of his points on foul shots and was 6 of 14 from the floor. … Jeter was 3 of 10 for 12 points. … Pitt outrebounded Syracuse 37-29, 17-7 on the offensive glass but only got 15 second-chance points, five more than the Orange.
Syracuse: Boeheim’s signature zone defense shows signs of coming back to life. The Orange were torched for 25 3-pointers in splitting its first two conference games, allowing 16 from beyond the arc in a 15-point loss at Boston College and nine more at home in a 15-point win over Miami on Wednesday night. Pitt went 0 for 7 in the first half and finished 6 of 19.
BIG D: The Orange were particularly effective on defense along the baseline. In a span of 2 minutes midway through the first half, White blocked Young at the rim and Roberson followed with a similar block on Ryan Luther. In between, Battle hit a 3-pointer for a 20-point lead. Syracuse finished with nine blocks, two off its season high.
”They were tremendous on the baseline,” Artis said. ”You’ve got to be tough when you get in the middle. Good scouting report from Boeheim. We’ve got to be ready next time.”
Pittsburgh travels to face No. 9 Louisville on Wednesday night.
Syracuse travels to face No. 21 Virginia Tech on Tuesday night.
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