Syracuse, N.Y. -- It was business as usual for Syracuse's Tyler Ennis. Nevermind the bright lights and big stage (once again). The freshman couldn't be bothered by all of that. He just went out there and did what he has been doing since the season started: play his game.
Behind his efforts, Syracuse was able to pull away from its former Big East nemesis Pittsburgh, 59-54, Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome.
Ennis' 16 points was enough to lead the team, however, it was his two layups and a pair of free throws that was the determining factor for the Orange.
With 1:48 left to go in the second half, Ennis glided down the middle of the lane and effortlessly let the ball roll off his fingertips. The basket gave Syracuse the lead, 53-52.
Timeout. Regroup. Breathe.
The following Pittsburgh sequence, though, would have Syracuse fans grasping for air and squirming uncomfortably in their seats.
Lamar Patterson launched a wild shot from behind the arc and came away unsuccessful. Right on schedule, however, was James Robinson for the offensive rebound and kick out to Cameron Wright, who also heaved it from downtown in a last chance effort to regain the lead. Clank.
In the end, Wright's miss would be Trevor Cooney's gain. The redshirt sophomore secured the rebound and timeout was called.
The Panthers had its way against the Orange, dominating on the boards (35-24) and second chance opportunities (19-2).
"It's just disappointing at this stage that we would do such a poor job on the boards in the second half," Boeheim said. "Part of that is Pittsburgh's good, their physical. They're a really good basketball team."
Patterson led the Panthers with 18 points, respectively, and had three back-to-back-to-back treys to pull the team within three, 39-36, early in the second half.
"They have really great guard play," Boeheim said. "Patterson is a tremendous player. He has really worked hard. He improved his shooting. I don't remember him his freshman year even being able to make a shot."
Ennis would showcase his fearless gamesmanship one more time, executing on yet another big layup, this time with 30 seconds to play. Syracuse was now up, 55-52.
"He made some of the best plays that I've seen in a long time," Boeheim said. "You don't get to the basket against Pittsburgh and he got to the basket for two layups and made his free throws. That's unusual for any player."
A foul by the Panthers' Josh Newkirk would send the freshman to the charity strip. Ennis sunk them both.
Rakeem Christmas would seal it with a key defensive rebound and two made free throws.
Other notables: C.J. Fair (13 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks); Jerami Grant (12 points, four rebounds); Christmas (10 points, four rebounds, three blocks)
Syracuse will face Miami on the road next Saturday, Jan. 25. Tip is slated for 1 p.m.
Ennis lifts Syracuse past Pittsburgh
Cuse Nation Top Stories
Scout on the Town: F-M at CBAThere is a huge high school football matchup in Central New York between Fayetteville-Manlius and Christian Brothers Academy on Friday. Preview inside.
Cuse Nation6:30 PM
Highlights of Top 10 SG Hamidou DialloHamidou Diallo is Scout's 10th ranked prospect in 2017. Here are highlights of the five-star shooting guard from the Pangos All-American Camp.
Scout Hoops12:19 PM
Hamidou Diallo is eligible for the NBA Draft2017 wing Hamidou Diallo is eligible for the 2017 NBA Draft. The five-star recruit told Scout he'll look into the process, while also going through his college recruitment.
Scout Hoops11:36 AM
Matchup Preview: Syracuse vs Notre DameCuseNation.com breaks down the matchup between Syracuse and Notre Dame.
Cuse NationTuesday at 8:20 PM