What we learned from Syracuse’s 77-66 win over Pittsburgh

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ All of a sudden, Syracuse has come to life after a disheartening 15-point loss at Boston College last Sunday. The Orange (10-6, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) has reeled off back-to-back double-digit wins over respectable ACC offenses, the most recent coming in a 77-66 triumph over Pittsburgh (12-4, 1-2) on Saturday afternoon in the Carrier Dome.Here’s what we learned from Syracuse’s second conference win.MORE COVERAGESyracuse men’s basketball’s offense has found a groove with better efficiency in past two gamesSyracuse shuts off Jamel Artis in high post to stunt Pittsburgh offense in 77-66 winJohn Gillon plays ‘as good as you can get’ in Syracuse’s 77-66 win over PittsburghSuperlatives from Syracuse’s 77-66 victory over Pittsburgh Tyler Roberson can be one of the most influential players even if he only scores 4 pointsThe two plays of the game both came via the hands of Roberson, one on a rejection of Ryan Luther that sent the ball into the Syracuse bench, and one on a two-handed alley-oop to put an exclamation point on the game late in the second half.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe latter was only one of two buckets Roberson scored on the afternoon, as his footprint on the game came on the defensive end. That’s why SU head coach Jim Boeheim has sided with the senior over Taurean Thompson, who’s better offensively than Roberson but still has much room for improvement defensively.Roberson finished with a career-high six blocks while adding a team-high 10 rebounds to his line. Taking the opponent into consideration, Saturday was Roberson’s best performance on the boards and arguably his best all-around game, even if he barely affected the scoreboard.“Coach said at halftime that he was winning the game for us,” Tyler Lydon said of Roberson. “He was all over the place, rebounding, blocking shots, so he’s been playing great, just gotta keep it going.”Tyus Battle has found his groove as a starterSince seemingly asserting himself as a starter for good following Syracuse’s win against Cornell, Battle has come into his own following early-season bumps in the road. Those, coming in the form of a foot injury and struggling to drive to the rim, have subsided.Battle has averaged 11.8 points in the last four games, capped by a 15-point performance against Pittsburgh on Saturday. Following the game, Battle said his foot injury had been hampering his ability to drive to the basket and make quick stops on the court, but that’s no longer the case.The freshman hit three 3-pointers in the first half and scored three more times inside the arc, playing a full 40 minutes for the second time this season and second game in a row.“It’s not due to like the minutes,” Battle said. “It’s just me mentally staying engaged.”John Gillon is clearly better off not coming off the courtThis may seem elementary — who doesn’t play better with more playing time? But Gillon has repeatedly said playing in stints rather than staying on the court for extended periods of time not only stunted his confidence but also prevented him from getting into a rhythm.“I told him before, a long time ago, he was gonna play 8-10 minutes straight, not get taken out,” Boeheim said. “But he never really relaxed in that situation.”He started the season as Syracuse’s seventh man off the bench, but on Saturday he was arguably the team’s best player. The fifth-year senior played a full 40 minutes for the first time this season and recorded his first double-double in an SU uniform, tallying 20 points and tying a season high with 11 assists.It’s Gillon’s job to lose, as Frank Howard played one minute and five seconds in the last game and didn’t enter the game against Pittsburgh. And if Gillon keeps running the offense and controlling games as he has in Syracuse’s last two wins, he won’t have to worry about his rhythm being interrupted. Commentscenter_img Published on January 7, 2017 at 5:06 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidmanlast_img read more