January 4, 2007
Pitt beats Syracuse in Big East opener
The No. 10 Pitt men's basketball team won its Big East conference opener Thursday night when the Panthers beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome 74-66. Sophomore point guard Levance Fields scored a career-high 24 points in the victory.
For Pitt, the key was beating the Orange 2-3 zone with good shooting. But one game after hitting 13 of 31 three-pointers (both season highs) against Florida A&M, the Panthers had just two three-pointers at halftime, and both of those long-range shots came from reserve guard Keith Benjamin.
On top of that, Pitt got just two points from senior center Aaron Gray in the first half. Gray, the team's leading scorer entering the game, didn't see many touches or shots through the initial 20 minutes. But while Gray remained a non-factor, the Panthers got eight points from Fields and six each from Benjamin and Mike Cook.
As a result, Pitt trailed at 34-33 at halftime, and the deficit was only one point on account of Cook scoring four unanswered points to end the half.
When the teams came out of the break, the Panthers took control, scoring seven straight points to force Jim Boeheim to call a timeout after one minute and 12 seconds had passed. Pitt led 40-34 at that point, but the Orange battled back out of the timeout, scoring six points of their own to tie the score and leading Jamie Dixon to call a timeout of his own.
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