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Pittsburgh Basketball: 3 keys to home matchup with Syracuse Orange

Pittsburgh Basketball has a chance to get revenge for a loss a couple of weeks ago against the Syracuse Orange. What do they need to do to get the win?

Dec 30, 2023; Syracuse, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers guard Jaland Lowe (15) and Syracuse
Dec 30, 2023; Syracuse, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers guard Jaland Lowe (15) and Syracuse / Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
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Pittsburgh Basketball has a chance to get revenge for a loss a couple of weeks ago against the Syracuse Orange. What do they need to do to get the win?

Coming off a blowout loss to Duke, Pittsburgh Basketball is tied for last place in the ACC standings at 1-4. Even more worrying is that they've fallen out of the bubble picture, still without a good win on the season. Now, they need to worry about getting bad losses to hurt things even more.

That starts on Tuesday, hosting rival Syracuse. After losing by 36 points at North Carolina, the Orange has seen its own numbers take a hit, making them a Quad 3 home game for the Panthers. But Syracuse does own an 81-73 home win over Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago and is looking for the season sweep. Here's a look at the keys to the Panthers winning.

1. Bounce back game from Carrington

From a stats perspective, the freshman guard still looks fine, scoring in double figures each ACC game. But Carrington is coming off his worst game of the season, going 4/16 from the field in a loss to Duke and being scoreless for most of the game. With Ishmael Leggett recovering from a shoulder injury, the Panthers need the freshman to have a good and efficient game against the Orange.

In the first game, Carrington not only had 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, on 6/12 shooting but he also outplayed both Judah Mintz and JJ Starling on the other side. For the Panthers to have a shot at winning Tuesday night, they'll need a repeat performance from him.

2. Limiting impact from Quadir Copeland

What made that first loss so confusing for the Panthers is that it wasn't the guards that did them in but rather the forwards off the bench. Malik Brown and Benny Williams had 15 points and seven rebounds each, while Copeland had a career-high 22 points, nine rebounds, and four assists, going 13/15 from the FT line.

Although his scoring production has been inconsistent overall, Copeland has emerged as a good all-around player off the bench, with five games of at least 12 points and four assists in the last few weeks. Pittsburgh's lack of depth could be an issue if the Orange gets good minutes out of the sophomore wing so it'll be important for Zack Austin and William Jeffress to slow him down.

3. FTs and 3-pointers

In the first matchup, Syracuse shot just 3/17 from deep, compared to 10/25 for Pittsburgh. The difference in the second half was the free throw disparity, as the Orange made 24/30. The Panthers went an awful 11/24 from the charity stripe. Just as concerning for the home team has been the lack of shooting, struggling in games against UNC and Duke.

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Pittsburgh just isn't good enough to not do the simple stuff and come out with a win in league play. Besides Blake Hinson having a good game and slowing down Mintz on the other end, the Panthers just need to make their free throws and make enough shots to win at home. Otherwise, the season will be going down the drain.