Top Performer: There may not be a better four point outing this season than Tyler Roberson had against Pittsburgh. he was fantastic for Syracuse. He was the best player on the floor in the first half. Roberson got deflections, altered shots, blocked shots and controlled the glass on both ends. He may have only had 10 rebounds, but he kept several more alive with tips. Even though he doubled his previous career high in blocks (finished with six), his defensive impact was much greater. This is exactly the type of performance the Orange need from him on a consistent basis.
Bottom Feeder: It's tough to find a poor performance in this one, but Taurean Thompson had defensive issues. In just 10 minutes, he committed three fouls. He was able to score four points on 2-3 shooting, but he made a few mistakes on the defensive end of the floor.
Stat of the Game: 0-7. That is what Pittsburgh shot in the first half from three-point range. All were contested and not great looks, showing how phenomenal the Syracuse defense was in that half. It was the most aggressive and well executed the zone has been all season, and it is not even close. They trapped at every opportunity, forced turnovers, got deflections, blocked shots and recovered well on rotations. There was communication, help defense and crisp rotations. They especially covered the high-post and the baselines exceptionally well.
Turning Point: After Pitt had tied the game at six at the 15:56 mark of the first half, Syracuse went on a 30-2 run that put the Panthers away. Pitt would never seriously threaten again. Syracuse was 11-15 shooting during that run, and made eight three-pointers. Pitt, on the other hand, was 1-13 shooting and turned it over several times.
He Said It: "It’s getting used to the system and used to the players. That takes time. I told him a long time ago that he was going to play eight or nine minutes, but he never really relaxed in that situation. I think being familiar with the system and knowing he’s going to be in there is helping his confidence out." - Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim on John Gillon.
- Tyler Lydon makes the Syracuse offense go. When he was not on the floor, the Orange struggled and looked out of sorts. When was in the game, the ball moved fluidly, Syracuse found the open man, got into the paint and seemed to move much better. He puts so much pressure on opposing defenses, that it opens everything else up.
- Gillon was simply marvelous in this game. He hit critical shots from the outside, got into the lane and made plays, pushed the ball in transition and ran the Orange offense to perfection. Gillon was also solid defensively. In total, he finished with 20 points, 11 assists and two steals.
- Once Thompson figures things out defensively, he is going to be scary good. Has Syracuse had a better big in terms of hitting the mid-range jumper in recent memory? He is deadly from there, but his mistakes in the zone and fouling on rebounds are keeping him from getting more minutes.
- Andrew White continues to improve in non-scoring areas of his game. He attacked the glass, battled inside and was good defensively for the second consecutive game. Could the switch have flipped in terms of his zone prowess?
- Tyus Battle continues to develop. Defensively, he was superb against Pittsburgh with three steals and several more deflections. He also contributed 15 points with excellent outside shooting and some nice drives. As he rounds out his game, Battle can become a major weapon for the Orange if he is not already.