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Defense helps Syracuse basketball break open game, beat Pittsburgh, 74-63

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Syracuse, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange broke open a close game with an impressive defensive effort to beat Pittsburgh 74-63 in front of 24,466 fans Saturday at the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse ended the first half on a skid, but the Orange came out of the halftime break and shut down the Panthers.

Syracuse held Pittsburgh to just two points in the first 5 minutes and 57 seconds of the second half. The sturdy defense allowed the Orange to go on a 12-0 run, which increased its lead to 40-27.

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That one stretch of defense proved to be the difference in the game even as Syracuse saw a 20-point lead dwindle to nine points in the game’s final minutes.

Syracuse improved to 13-5 on the season and 4-1 in the ACC. Pittsburgh’s record dropped to 12-6 overall and 2-3 in the ACC with the loss.

Syracuse hurt itself, and kept the game close, by making just 12 of its 23 free-throw attempts. Syracuse took all 23 of its free throws in the second half.

Tyus Battle put the game away with five straight points midway through the second half. Battle drained a 3-pointer and then turned a steal into a breakaway slam-dunk for a 50-31 lead with 9:45 remaining in the game.

Battle finished with a team-high 22 points.

Best and worst from Syracuse’s win

Paschal Chukwu returned to the starting lineup after his 10-point, 18-rebound performance in the Orange’s win over No. 1 Duke on Monday. Chukwu started the first 11 games of the season but had been coming off the bench for the six games prior to Saturday. He didn’t play at all in SU’s win over Clemson on Jan. 9.

Chukwu responded with an excellent performance. He was active on both ends of the floor, finishing with six points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Syracuse freshman Buddy Boeheim scored a career-high 13 points off the bench. Boeheim went 4-for-5 on 3-pointers, hitting his first four of the game.

Syracuse led 28-25 at halftime, but the Orange should have been up by much more. Syracuse led 28-16 after Battle’s jumper with 2:33 remaining in the half. But Pitt out-scored the Orange 9-0 from that point on. Syracuse committed turnovers on three of its last five possessions of the half to allow the Panthers a chance to get back into the game.

Syracuse made six of its 12 shots from 3-point range in the first half. However, the Orange hit only five out of 18 shots from inside the 3-point line.

Syracuse’s next game is on Thursday against Miami at the Carrier Dome.

Follow Syracuse basketball on Twitter and Facebook.

You grade the Orange after Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh



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