September 17

Patterson stretches zone, opens interior in Pittsburgh’s near upset

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 18, 2014 at 11:11 pm Contact Stephen: sebail01@syr.edu | @Stephen_Bailey1 Lamar Patterson held his hands wide and stared down the Syracuse student section. He flexed and curled his arms in front of him, arched his head back and let out an incoherent roar.The Pittsburgh senior forward had just drained his third 3-pointer in three possessions, bringing the Panthers back from 10 points down to just three with 13:09 to play.The Orange tried to stretch its 2-3 zone. Instead, it snapped.“They got momentum, we kind of stretched out more and that’s when they killed us on offensive rebounds,” Syracuse forward C.J. Fair said. “If we don’t let him get that, I think we can win this game easy.”But for the still undefeated No. 2 Orange (18-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast), its 59-54 win against No. 22 Pittsburgh (16-2, 4-1) in the Carrier Dome on Saturday was anything but easy down the stretch. The stout defense that held the Panthers to just 10-of-28 shooting through the first 25:43 lost control of Patterson. The man who missed five of his first seven shots forced SU’s guards to rise, opening up the high post and leaving the Orange back line exposed on the glass.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse escaped, thanks in part to the clutch play of freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, but Pitt senior center Talib Zanna and Co. gave the Orange all it could handle in the final minutes.“It’s the first time that’s happened this year,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “We just didn’t rebound for a long stretch and it could’ve cost us the game.“And it will cost us a game if we don’t correct that.”All it took for the Panthers to deny the Orange its put-away run was three flicks of the wrist.First, Patterson answered an Ennis 3 with a triple from the right wing. After a Rakeem Christmas jumper, Patterson connected closer to the top of the key. Then, following a Jerami Grant missed jumper, Patterson struck from the point.The scoreboard blurred from 37-27 to 39-36 in 79 seconds. The 30,046 that filled the Carrier Dome fell silent and the Panthers were all of a sudden within three.“(Patterson)’s really worked hard,” Boeheim said. “He’s improved his shooting. I don’t remember him his freshman year being able to make a shot.”Over the next 4:33, Pitt grabbed six of seven rebounds and rallied ahead to a 49-48 lead with 5:59 left.The broad-shouldered Zanna dominated the paint during that span, scoring six of his 12 points and handling Christmas on the boards.He played a large part in the Panthers scoring 19 second-chance points, 14 of which came in the second half.“We just weren’t getting better position than them,” Christmas said.As the minutes waned, the Orange continued to have trouble rebounding. Even after Ennis’ go-ahead layup, Pitt guard Michael Young was left alone to snare a Patterson missed 3-pointer with 1:14 to play.Then James Robinson hauled in another Patterson missed 3 with five seconds left.The difference on those plays was that the Panthers couldn’t capitalize. Rebounds deflected out of bounds and in that last instance, Fair committed a foul to avoid another game-tying opportunity for Pitt.But with Patterson at the line having missed his first of two free throws and the Orange leading 57-54 with three seconds left, Christmas grabbed arguably the biggest rebound of the game.“I tried to get (Zanna) a little earlier than normal and the ball didn’t come off real hard so I came down with it,” Christmas said.For Syracuse, the scare serves as a lesson. If you leave a shooter open, a balanced team can tear your defense apart.And there will be plenty more shooters to face during the ACC season.Said Fair: “They made us work in the zone. You get used to playing that style and then you’re going to play other teams with that style.“It kind of helps us out.” Commentslast_img


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