Fans of Syracuse and Pitt knew exactly how tonight’s game would go. The two teams played a low-scoring, physical game down to the end, with the game hinging on the last few possessions.
Pitt controlled the game from midway through the first half, dominating on the glass and taking advantage of numerous second chance opportunities. Late in the second half, however, Syracuse senior forward CJ Fair made big shot after big shot, scoring eight straight points to keep the Orange in the game.
With 13 seconds left, Pitt missed a number of put-back chances off of a James Robinson miss, and Tyler Ennis took the eventual Syracuse rebound coast-to-coast, drawing a hard foul, and putting Syracuse up one, 55-54, by knocking down two free throws.
With 4.4 seconds left, Talib Zanna received an entry pass and was fouled by Rakeem Christmas, and put Pitt back on top 56-55 by hitting two from the line as well.
Pitt applied pressure on the in-bound, but Jerami Grant was able to find point guard Tyler Ennis, who brought the ball up the court, and heaved a 40 foot shot which found the back of the net for the win.
Ennis, who as a true freshman has made numerous huge late-game plays for the undefeated Orange, hit what is so far the defining shot of his career to beat the Panthers, who had not lost at home to Syracuse since 2004.
Syracuse’s defense held Pitt in check late in the game, prompting a 7-0 Orange run before Zanna’s free throws, allowing the team to get back into the game.
Syracuse moves to 24-0, and will defend that undefeated mark against NC State at the Carrier Dome this Saturday at 3 pm. No. 25 Pitt travels to North Carolina on Saturday at 1 pm.