Tue, 09 Mar 2021

Pittsburgh shoots for season sweep of Syracuse

Field Level Media
16 Jan 2021, 05:19 GMT+10

Playing for just the second time in 25 days, Pittsburgh faces the same Syracuse squad it defeated on Jan. 6.

The Panthers look to complete a regular-season sweep of their longtime rivals when they host the Orange on Saturday in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues tocause numerous postponements around the country and Pitt has seen four of its last five scheduled games get shelved.

But the one game that was played resulted in a good time for the Panthers (6-2, 2-1 ACC), who halted a seven-game slide in the series with a 63-60 win over host Syracuse.

Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel surely never counted on having to play back-to-back games against the Orange.

"Certainly, it's something that we didn't envision, but it is what it is," Capel said. "It's a long time between games. That's something that I don't like -- not having competition."

Since beating Syracuse, the Panthers had games against Florida State (Jan. 9) and Georgia Tech (Wednesday) postponed.

The Orange (7-3, 1-2) know the feeling as they had two late December games postponed as well as a Jan. 2 date with North Carolina while on pause after Buffalo -- a Dec. 19 opponent -- had an outbreak. A Jan. 6 game with Florida State was postponed and was replaced on the same date with the first encounter with Pitt.

Syracuse nearly lost another opportunity earlier this week when Clemson was unable to play Tuesday due to a COVID-19 issue.

The ACC did some game shifting and rescheduled the Syracuse-North Carolina for Tuesday. The Orange lost 81-75 in a contest in which they were outrebounded 48-31 by the host Tar Heels.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim pointed to the absence of Bourama Sidibe as a prime factor in the issues on the boards. Sidibe tore the meniscus in his left knee in the season opener versus Bryant on Nov. 27 and he recently returned to practice but isn't yet ready to return.

"He's not ready," Boeheim said on his radio show. "His knee is bothering him. He's still in pain. I don't envision him back any time soon. His knee is fine, but he's got pain from arthritis or whatever and can't play. There's nothing he can do about it. There's nothing we can do about it."

Au'Diese Toney collected a career-best 14 rebounds to go along with 12 points for his first career double-double in Pitt's recent win over the Orange. Ithiel Horton led the Panthers with 14 points.

Alan Griffin recorded 15 points and eight rebounds and Robert Braswell scored 12 points for Syracuse.

The Panthers will be without star Justin Champagnie (knee) for the third straight game. Capel is hopeful Champagnie (averages of 17.8 points and 12.3 rebounds) will return in about two weeks.

--Field Level Media

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