Pittsburgh holds on for 65-61 win at Syracuse
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Chris Jones said he felt ”pretty comfortable” on the Carrier Dome floor, and his shooting made the Syracuse Orange look uncomfortable on its home court.
Jones, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, tied his career high with 19 points, Jamel Artis had 16 and Michael Young chipped in 14 as Pittsburgh held off Syracuse 65-61 on Saturday.
Jones was seven of 10 from the field coming off the bench, five of six from beyond the arc, and scored 11 straight points in the first half to help the Panthers build a 31-25 lead after the first 20 minutes.
”Last night we got in here and we got some shots up,” said Jones, who was averaging 8.8 points a game entering the game. ”I feel pretty comfortable out here on this court. My teammates did a good job of finding me. I just want to step in, be confident and knock it down.
”Coach (Jamie Dixon) really just emphasizes me stepping in and being confident. I thought with their zone I might get some open looks,” Jones added. ”The guys did a good job penetrating and getting the ball in the middle. When they collapsed I was the open man on the perimeter.”
Dixon, whose Panthers have now won seven of nine with losses coming against No. 12 Louisville and No. 2 Virginia, praised all of his bench players for ”terrific” contributions, but none bigger than Jones.
”He’s our best shooter and you need some guys to make some shots against the zone,” Dixon said, ”We have confidence in him and our passing was key to many of his shots.”
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim bemoaned his team’s offense – the Orange hit just 43 percent for the game and just four of 12 from beyond the arc – and said his defense just couldn’t contain Jones.
”I thought we got off to a bad start offensively. We missed free throws early, we missed lay ups early,” Boeheim said. ”We just couldn’t get in a rhythm but we wanted to really focus our defense on Jones.”
Syracuse, which trailed by 11 points twice in the second half, closed to 61-60 on a 3-pointer by BJ Johnson. Syracuse had a chance for the lead on its next possession but Rakeem Christmas was called for an illegal screen with 36.4 seconds to go in the game. James Robinson then hit two foul shots to keep the Orange at bay.
”I was just setting a screen,” Christmas said. ”I don’t feel like it was a foul. I can’t control what they see.”
Boeheim, for his part, gave his opinion of the call without really giving an opinion.
”No comment, no comment, no comment. We’re not allowed to talk about that,” he said.
Christmas had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Orange (17-10, 8-6 Atlantic Coast Conference). It was his 10th double-double of the season. Michael Gbinije had 12 and Johnson 11. Trevor Cooney, averaging 14.2 points a game, failed to score.
Jones hit 11 straight points to spark Pittsburgh (18-10, 7-7) to a 31-25 halftime lead. Jones’s burst during the run came on three 3-pointers and a layup.
Dixon said the win put his team in good position down the stretch as it plays for an NCAA at-large berth.
”This is as hard a place to play in the country. They (Syracuse) just beat Louisville,” he said. ”We needed a good road win and we certainly did that today. We’re moving forward.”
Pitt: Syracuse was the only opponent remaining on Pitt’s schedule that’s more than a game above .500 in the ACC. … In his last 11 games, Jamel Artis had been averaging 18.8 points a game, scoring in double-figures in each of those games. … Saturday’s game was just the second time since 2007-2008 that both Pitt and Syracuse entered their matchup unranked.
Syracuse: Louis Orr and Roosevelt Bouie had their jerseys retired at halftime. The duo played at Syracuse from 1976-80 and both finished their collegiate careers as 1,000-point scorers. They were considered Jim Boeheim’s first major recruits. … Syracuse is in the midst of a season-ending gauntlet. In its last two games, the Orange played No. 4 Duke and No. 12 Louisville and ends its season at No. 10 Notre Dame, at Duke, home against No. 2 Virginia and on then at North Carolina State. …. Rakeem Christmas is just four points shy of becoming the 59th player in school history to reach 1,000 points. … In his last six games, Trevor Cooney is 19 for 70 from the field and just 10-for-50 from beyond the arc. … Syracuse leads the all-time series 65-41.
When school officials presented Orr and Bouie with commemorative jersey, Bouie was spelled Bowie.
”We deeply regret that it happened. We’re not going to let ruin a special day” said Joe Giansante, chief of athletic communications.
Pitt hosts Boston College Tuesday.
Syracuse is on the road Tuesday against Notre Dame.