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PITTSBURGH (AP) – Oshae Brissett scored 18 points, Frank Howard added 15 and Syracuse fended off a second-half surge by Pittsburgh in a 65-56 victory on Saturday.
Brissett added 12 rebounds for the Orange (16-6, 7-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who swept the season series from the Panthers (12-10, 2-7) by responding emphatically after Pitt trimmed a 16-point first-half deficit to three early in the second half.
Howard hit two 3-pointers during a 16-5 burst by the Orange to give Syracuse a 55-41 lead with 8:03 to go and the Orange’s defense did the rest as Syracuse won for the fifth time in six games despite getting just six points on 2-of-13 shooting from leading scorer Tyus Battle.
For once, the Orange didn’t need their senior guard to shoulder most of the load. Center Paschal Chukwu chipped in 10 points to go with eight rebounds while manning the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.
Terrell Brown scored a season-high 16 points for Pitt. Xavier Johnson scored 14 points to go with six assists and five rebounds but the Panthers dropped their fifth straight. Pitt shot 32 percent (18 of 57) and made only 5 of 22 3-pointers, giving the Orange little reason to extend their defense.
The Syracuse suffocated the Panthers for large portions of their 74-63 victory on Jan. 19 as Pitt struggled to generate any sort of offense outside of Jared Wilson-Frame and Johnson.
Two weeks later and 360 miles to the southwest, it was more of the same. Wearing gold retro jerseys and playing in front of a sellout crowd that included former program luminaries like Billy Knight and Chevy Troutman, the Panthers looked tentative at times and overwhelmed at others. Pitt made just two field goals over the final 10 minutes of the first half and made just 6 of 23 (26 percent) overall.
There were no such issues Syracuse. If the Orange weren’t lobbing it in to Chukwu for layups or dunks then they were knocking down 3-pointers, including a pair from Buddy Boeheim that helped the Orange build a seemingly comfortable 13-point lead at the break.
Syracuse: The Orange have the proper ingredients to be a threat in the ACC into March. The fact they could survive on a day when Battle or second-leading scorer Elijah Hughes (five points) couldn’t generate much of anything is tangible proof they’re developing the kind of depth they’ll need down the road.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers need Brown to show more of the assertiveness he showed offensively in the second half if they ever want opponents to stop playing zone against them. Brown scored 14 of his 16 points over the final 20 minutes, most of them on dunks after he got position inside.
Syracuse: Hosts Florida State on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Pittsburgh: Visits Wake Forest on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
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