No one on Syracuse's team had ever beaten Pitt. That is now no longer the case. Pitt had won 5 in a row at the Carrier Dome (longest streak ever by an away team). Also no longer the case.
I still believe in this team.
I do not know why.
They played well in this game and could have won if not for just some awful free throw shooting. More on that later.
Let's give grades now before I get too upset about Pitt starting 0-6 in the Big East for the first time ever.
Syracuse started the game on a 13-0 run.
Then Pitt sacked up and got it to 19-15. But they could never get any closer. Syracuse would open up a huge lead (highest of 14 in the second half) but then Pitt would battle back. A Zanna jumper made it 49-45 with about 8 minutes left and I was thinking about believing in Miracles. Then Captain Boeheim called a timeout, designed a perfect play for an open 3, a Pitt miss, and another uncontested 3 and the lead was back to ten and Pitt never challenged again.
Epps - After playing well against Marquette, Epps did nothing really in his 9 minutes. He missed another 3 (that's like 0-14 or something on the year) and he didn't play in the second half. When Pitt got down 13 early on, there's no way Dixon could keep Epps on the floor with his poor shooting. Grade C-
Patterson - Patterson wasn't awful but he didn't stand out either. He had 10 points 5 rebounds 3 assists, but he did miss all three of his 3 point attempts as well as going 4-7 from the line. Grade B-
Gibbs - Gibbs had no space whatsoever against the Cuse 2-3. The fact of the matter is that the Orange are just huge. And Pitt starts 4 guys 6'5 and under, which can work (see Villanova's 06 team) but only if they're small and quick.
Nasir Robinson is not very quick. Gibbs shot 2-11 from 3, which is remarkable considering he didn't see the basket all night. Grade B-
Zanna - Zanna has hands of stone. He wasn't credited with any turnovers, but I think that if he gets his hands on a rebound and then fumbles it out of bounds (something Pitt did at least 5 times tonight) then they should give them a turnover. The most impressive thing about Zanna's game tonight was the fact that he made 3-4 from the free throw line. He along with Taylor, Robinson and Patterson all missed infinite Bunnies down low. They'd get an offensive rebound (18 total) and then Syracuse would be in their mouths and the bigs would block it or the guards would knock it loose. Just unreal hands from all of Cuse. Grade B
Robinson - Wow. Just wow. I don't even have words for how awful Nas was in this game. 1-5 from the field. 2-8 from the free throw line. Three straight possessions early in the second half, Nas made a power move and got fouled, the 2nd and the 3rd shots were this close to going down for the possible and 1. Each time it just rimmed out and Robinson had to go the the Charity Stripe (which I will now refer to as the LeMont stripe because for Pitt, that shit is never free.
Also of note: Jay Bilas has a boner for Robinson. "Robinson is a playmaker in the middle of that zone." Bilas said that statement at least 10 times this evening.
I like Bilas, but he was just infuriating tonight with his commentary. Of course they had to bring up the Butler game and then have the nerd to say that many people thought Pitt would have won the national championship had they gotten past Butler ("they were a better team for most of the year than UConn") Yeah, well they probably would've choked against Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.
Nasir Grade: Made me want to cut my wrists then go walk barefoot in the ocean on some coral.
Sleepy Taylor - Let's see. Taylor would get an offensive rebound. Then try to go back up strong and get stuffed. That is Taylor's performance in a nutshell. 11 total rebounds (7 offensive) but only 2-7 from the field. He is a joke. Grade D
Moore - He hit an early 3 that was huge in cutting into the Cuse's gift-wrapped 13-0 cushion after tip-off, then he had a nice take in garbage time. 30 minutes of game action in between that he was invisible. Grade C
Johnson - He hit his first 3 triples, but he was a little reckless with the ball. He only had one turnover but he was losing control too much for my liking. 9 points from those 3's, at least he's finding his stroke again. Grade B
Wright - His line 10 7 and 3 is actually not bad, but it was aided by a ridiculous last 2 minutes. He hit a 3, had a nice pull-up in the lane in the last minute and a half. In the first half he had a really nice coast to coast layup for an and 1 that he actually converted. Grade B
Pitt was down 9 after the first half. In the second half they actually outplayed the Cuse in the second half (37-36). They had 10 turnovers in the first ten minutes of the game and then only 3 over the last 30. So let's see, they won the first half against Marquette and the 2nd half against the Cuse. They're close to putting it together. Get Woodall back and let it ride. Gameday in your mouths on Saturday.