There was electricity in the air on Saturday night at the Petersen Events Center as the Pittsburgh Panthers took on the Syracuse Orange. There were a record 1,900 student tickets given out before the game, coupled with the Panthers wearing mustard yellow throwback jerseys. This was a very challenging week for Pitt which included losing at Louisville and Clemson, then losing out on recruit Qudus Wahab. After being viewed as the favorite for the four-star forward all season, losing out on him is especially detrimental considering Pitt has zero recruits in the 2019 class and lacks frontcourt talent. Although they are still in the running for big man Tre Mitchell, losing Wahab to the Hoyas is a dagger for Pitt’s 2019 recruiting efforts.
The Panthers came out extremely flat in the first half, scoring only five points in the first eight minutes. Although they picked up the pace later on, they still finished with a season low 22 points at the break, down 13. While the Panthers couldn’t get anything together on the offensive end, they held up on the defensive boards by only allowing the Orange to scoop up two offensive rebounds. Trey McGowens continued his slide, getting shut out on only one attempt from the field. Although he only made one of seven attempts from the field, Xavier Johnson did get to the line, finishing with eight points.
After going back and forth to begin the second half, Pitt found their rhythm on offense to claw back into the game with thirteen minutes left as they cut Syracuse’s lead to three. However, the Orange corrected their shooting woes as Frank Howard drilled two straight triples to help build their lead back up to 14 with eight minutes left. Pitt kept working and was able to cut Syracuse’s lead to seven with just under three minutes left, but a one-minute, 14 second possession from Syracuse iced the game as Pitt wasn’t ever able to come back. After McGowens missed a shot from deep, Xavier Johnson fouled out on the rebound and Syracuse was sent to the line with 33 seconds left and the rest is history.
Overall, Pitt played well in the second half but wasn’t able to battle back from the hole they dug in the first half. Similar to the Clemson and Louisville games, Pitt played well in one half and atrocious in the other. Pitt’s star freshman duo, Johnson and McGowens, went 2-16 from the field, leaving Jared Wilson-Frame and Terrell Brown to pull their weight as they had 12 and 16 respectively. Pitt’s losing streak is now at five games, with the next chance to correct it coming on tuesday at Wake Forest.