PITTSBURGH (AP) — Freshman forward Bourama Sidibe scored a career-high 18 points off the bench and grabbed 16 rebounds and Syracuse pulled away late for a 60-55 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Sidibe came in averaging just 2.8 points per game on the season and had scored 16 points total since Thanksgiving. He topped that total in 33 energetic minutes as the Orange (15-6, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat the Panthers for the second time in 11 days.
Tyus Battle chipped in 14 points for Syracuse, which held Pitt to 28 percent shooting (18 of 65) and never trailed after using a 12-3 surge to break a 40-40 tie. Oshae Brissett started the run with a tip-in and a 3-pointer, Sidibe hit a layup, Battle knocked down a 3-pointer of his own and when Sidibe made a layup, the Orange led 52-43 with 2:35 left.
Marcus Carr led Pitt (8-14, 0-9) with 16 points and 12 assists and Jarod Wilson-Frame added 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds but the Panthers dropped their ninth straight. Three days after a near miss against North Carolina State, the Panthers hung around for more than 30 minutes but couldn’t seem to figure out Syracuse’s 2-3 zone with any consistency.
Syracuse won the first meeting on Jan. 16, an occasionally brutal 59-45 victory in which the Panthers could do little against the Orange’s zone defense save for freshman guard Parker Stewart. Early on, the rematch threatened to be even uglier. The teams combined for 15 made shots and 14 turnovers in the opening half, one in which Pitt went nearly nine minutes without making a bucket while Syracuse’s big men looked baffled with the ball in their hands outside of Sidibe.
Brissett, Marek Dolezaj and Paschal Chukwu combined to make just 6 of 26 shots. Sidibe, working almost exclusively in the paint, made 6 of 8 shots in a breakout performance.
Syracuse: The Orange can’t afford to give away any games if they want to have any shot of reaching the NCAA tournament. They flirted with it for the better part of 30 minutes before pulling away, though the upcoming schedule does them few favors with No. 2 Virginia, No. 4 Duke, No. 10 North Carolina and No. 18 Clemson still on the schedule.
Pitt: The Panthers remain emotionally engaged even as the losses pile up. Still, they’re halfway to going winless in the ACC with three straight road games against ranked teams in the offing. Pitt’s next legitimate shot at picking up its first ACC victory may not come until Feb. 13 against Boston College.
Syracuse: Travels to Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
Pitt: Begins three-game road trip at Miami on Wednesday. The Hurricanes beat the Panthers 67-53 on Dec. 30.
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