MBB : Last time they played: Pittsburgh 74, Syracuse 66

first_img Published on January 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm The thunderous Pittsburgh student section in the Petersen Events Center fell silent.Syracuse shocked the 12,925 fans on hand — known as the Oakland Zoo — with a 17-0 run to pull back into contention the last time the Orange and Panthers met back on Jan. 17, 2011.‘We made as good a comeback as you’re probably going to make,’ Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game.The comeback wasn’t enough, though, and SU fell short.The Panthers (18-1, 6-0 Big East) knocked the Orange (18-1, 5-1 Big East) back as soon as the game started, scoring the first 19 points of the game, and went on to win 74-66. And although SU battled back with a 17-0 run of its own, it was unable to complete its comeback without leading scorer Kris Joseph, who was out with a head injury.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPittsburgh forward Nasir Robinson torched Boeheim’s trademark 2-3 zone for 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Sophomore James Southerland managed just eight points in 38 minutes, attempting to fill the glaring void left by Joseph.But despite falling behind 19-0, and despite competing without its best player, point guard Scoop Jardine said he believed the Orange were still tough.‘We were right there,’ Jardine said. ‘And that is one thing — we are going to take credit from this loss.’It was Jardine who scored SU’s first points, connecting on a 3-pointer just more than eight minutes into regulation. Freshmen Dion Waiters and C.J. Fair followed with layups, sophomore guard Brandon Triche canned a jumper and the momentum shifted.Although Jardine and senior center Rick Jackson recorded double figures in scoring, it was Fair and Waiters who keyed SU’s turnaround with a combined 24 first-half points.As SU pulled to within two, assistant coach Mike Hopkins began dancing on the sidelines, imploring his team to maintain its defensive intensity.‘These kids showed a lot of heart,’ Hopkins said. ‘Playing without our leading scorer, Kris, the way these guys battled.’But when Ashton Gibbs hit a 3 to push the Pittsburgh lead back to nine with 6:33 left, Hopkins turned and spun. He followed with five two-footed stomps.A desperation press and clutch 3 from Triche brought the Orange within five with 1:07 left, but a layup by Brad Wanamaker with a minute left was the proverbial nail in the coffin.SU’s valiant comeback, Fair’s team-high 16 points and Jardine’s damage from long range were all for naught.Although the Orange quieted the Zoo early, turning a seemingly lost game into a Big East battle, the near-historic comeback was never completed.‘Chalk this up as a great learning experience,’ Hopkins said. ‘This place is as loud as it gets in college basketball.’—Compiled by Stephen Bailey, asst. copy editor, [email protected]  Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more