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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • July 12, 2024
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • July 12, 2024
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

Preview | The Panthers need a boost heading into pivotal game against Syracuse

Sophomore+center+Federiko+Federiko+%2833%29+scores+a+layup+against+Syracuse+during+the+Pitt+mens+basketball+game+on+Feb+25%2C+2023.
Jonathan Guo | Staff Photographer
Sophomore center Federiko Federiko (33) scores a layup against Syracuse during the Pitt men’s basketball game on Feb 25, 2023.

Pitt men’s basketball (10-6, 1-4 ACC) is in desperate need of a pick-me-up following a demoralizing loss to Duke its last time out. With Syracuse (11-5, 2-3 ACC) on the ledger, the Panthers are staring down a golden opportunity for a win that could help turn their season around. 

Pitt was no match for Duke on either end of the floor in its 75-53 loss to the Blue Devils last week. The Panthers shot 32.8% from the field and 33.3% from behind the arc for just 53 points while senior forward Blake Hinson and first-year guard Carlton “Bub” Carrington, the team’s two leading scorers, went a combined 7-for-24 from the floor. 

On the flip side, Duke nailed 11 three-pointers and shot 51.8% as part of a dominant outing that completely confounded Pitt’s defense. 

The good news for the Panthers is that the Orange are dealing with a multitude of issues on their end as well. Syracuse faced North Carolina in Chapel Hill over the weekend and was run out of the gym as it lost 103-67. The Orange managed just four threes on 36.5% shooting from the field while also losing the rebound battle 53 to 30. Their loss to the Tar Heels came just over a week after falling at the hands of Duke 86-66 on the road. 

Pitt and Syracuse will meet for the second time this season when they square off on Tuesday. After the Panthers won both games between the two teams last season, the Orange got the best of them in the first matchup this year on Dec. 30 with an 81-73 victory at the JMA Wireless Dome. Syracuse outscored Pitt 51-35 in the second half led by sophomore guard Quadir Copeland, who scored 22 points off the bench. Carrington paced the Panthers with 17 points while Hinson struggled, shooting 3-for-12 from the field and 1-for-7 from deep. 

Syracuse’s offense largely revolves around sophomore guard and former Pitt commit Judah Mintz. He is currently averaging 18.6 points per game, the highest total on the team, and is No. 3 in the ACC. Mintz shoots 43.1% shooting with 3.8 assists and 2.2 steals as well. 

Mintz was a member of the ACC All-Freshman team and an All-ACC honorable mention last season. He came off the bench in the Orange’s recent game against Boston College for the first time in his collegiate career after violating team rules, though he returned to the starting lineup against North Carolina. 

The Orange possess an offense that ranks in the middle of the road in most categories among ACC teams. They currently sit at No. 10 in points per game with 76.3 and No. 8 in field goal percentage at 44.4%. Where Syracuse runs into problems, however, is with its care of the ball and three-point shooting. The Orange average 12.7 turnovers per game, which is tied for the third-highest mark in the conference. Additionally, their 31.5% rate from behind the arc is the third-lowest in the ACC.

Pitt has avenues through which they can shut down Syracuse’s offense, especially considering the fact that the Orange doesn’t have a reliable post threat that can exploit the Panthers’ deficiencies in that area of the game. Scoring against Syracuse’s defense is a different beast, however. 

The Orange limit their opponents to 30.5% shooting from deep, which may pose issues for a Pitt team that attempts 28.3 three-pointers per game. Furthermore, Syracuse adheres to a physical style of play that has helped them come away with 15.4 turnovers per game thus far, ranking second in the conference. 

The Panthers will likely search for adjustments based on how the first matchup went between the two sides, but their entire game plan is dependent on their shot-makers like Hinson and Carrington finding their groove. 

Pitt enters Tuesday’s contest with a lot on the line. Another loss against Syracuse may push its resume past the point of no return and truly put its season on the brink.

A win, on the other hand, would go a long way towards rebuilding its momentum as it moves further into its conference schedule clinging onto hope for another NCAA tournament run. The Panthers match up quite well with the Orange, and now it’s just a matter of going out and getting the job done against a familiar opponent on their home floor.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center. Coverage will air on ESPN2.

About the Contributor
Jack Markowski, Senior Staff Writer