CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Not only did Pitt have to worry about facing the x’s and o’s and the vaunted 2-3 defense of Jim Boeheim on Wednesday, the Panthers also had to worry about his son, Buddy, flushing three’s in their faces.
The younger Boeheim scored 20 points at Spectrum Center, fighting off an upset bid from Pitt. The Panthers 2018-19 campaign — the first under the direction of Jeff Capel — ended with a 73-59 defeat to the Orange in the second round of the ACC tournament.
Leading the way for Pitt (14-19; 4-16 ACC) in what was his final game in Panthers’ uniform was Jared Wilson-Frame, who tallied 24 points, seven rebounds and an assist.
The loss for Pitt marks the fifth straight time it has lost to Syracuse, one of the ACC teams it has the most history with, going back to their days in the Big East. The Panthers are now 45-71 all-time against the Orange.
After trailing briefly early on, Pitt led for the final 17 minutes of the first half. Pitt’s advantage was powered by an unconscious performance from Wilson-Frame, who finished the half with 18 points on six-of-nine shooting from three-point range. After hitting his sixth shot from behind the arc of the half, Wilson-Frame stretched his arms out, welcoming applause from the crowd. His performance was certainly worthy of it.
Malik Ellison was also strong in the first half, chipping in an effort of four points, four rebounds, a block and a steal in 14 minutes off the bench. Ellison’s lay-up at the 4:38 mark gave Pitt it’s largest lead of the night, 10 points. Ellison, a 6-foot-6 redshirt junior, totaled eight points, seven rebounds, a block and four steals on the night.
But Pitt also showed its flaws in the first half. More than once, Xavier Johnson attempted lob passes to post players that were off the mark. The freshman had two points on five shots in the first half, along with accounting for three of Pitt’s eight turnovers. Johnson ended the game with four points on 12 shots.
Things turned ugly early in the second half. A three-pointer from Buddy Boeheim at the around the 17-minute mark in the second half gave Syracuse its first lead of the second half. Boeheim followed that up with another make from behind the arc, giving the Orange a four-point lead and forcing Capel to call a timeout. In addition to his scoring output, Boeheim, a 6-foot-5 freshman, tallied six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Those shots from Boeheim were the beginnings of a 20-7 run from Syracuse, that was also highlighted by a tough and-1 bucket from him, where he grabbed his own missed shot and put in back in the basket while taking a foul.
Syracuse was missing a key player in this matchup, as junior Tyus Battle did not take the floor. Syracuse.com reported that the 6-foot-6 guard suffered a bruised hip in the Orange’s game against Clemson on Saturday. Battle was an All-ACC third-team selection and leads Syracuse in scoring with 17.2 points per-game.
There were just three seniors on this Pitt team in Wilson-Frame, Joe Mascaro and graduate transfer Sidy N’Dir. Mascaro did not see the floor Wednesday night, while N’Dir tallied 10 points in 27 minutes of play.
Capel’s first season at the helm of Pitt men’s basketball is over. Up next: the recruiting trail.