WASHINGTON, Sporting Alert – Cameron Johnson scored a career-best 24 points off the bench and Pittsburgh held off a late rally from Syracuse to hold on for a 72-71 win in their ACC Tournament second round game on Wednesday. Box Score
Johnson shot 8-of-16 from the floor and pulled down six rebounds as well, while Ryan Luther added 13 points and five boards and James Robinson finished with 12 points and five assists for the Panthers (21-10).
Michael Gbinije led Syracuse with 24 points and five rebounds, Malachi Richardson scored 13 points and DaJuan Coleman ended with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds in the defeat for the Orange (19-13) who were left to sweat on a possible courtesy selection for the NCAA Tournament.
Pitt Rally After Slow Start
The Panthers, after falling behind early and were down by as many as 10 points in the first half, ended the first period on a 13-3 run to take a 31-29 lead at halftime after outscoring the Orange’s bench 20-2 in the opening half.
Pitt also started the second half lively as well to increase that advantage before Syracuse used an 8-0 run in 90 seconds to pull the score to 50-44 in 11:29 left.
The Panthers went on another mini-run to go up by 10 points, but Syracuse just wouldn’t go away — hitting more big shots to trim the margin to four points with just over six-minutes remaining.
Pitt Goes Off Again; Cuse Answered Back
However, Pittsburgh knocked down big baskets in the closing minutes of the game to go up by 12 points with 4:22 to play and looked to have finally put away their rivals.
But just when you thought the Panthers would cruise towards a victory, the Orange used a 14-2 run to tie the game at 62-62 with 1:58 remaining.
Down To Last Play; Cooney Too Cold?
Pittsburgh was able to take back the lead and go up 72-71 with the final 6.6 seconds of the game.
So it all came down to the last play of the match.
On the last play of the contest, Jim Boeheim decided to put the ball into the hands of a very cold Trevor Cooney, who sat on the bench for more than half of the second half because of foul trouble, and the Cuse senior missed a potential game-winning 3-point attempt to hand the Panthers the big win.
Pittsburgh will now face top-seed North Carolina in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Shot Clock First Half Issues
The main talking point of the game through the first three minutes was one of the shot clocks, which went out no fewer than three times in the opening minutes because of problems with the wiring.
During that period, neither team managed to build enough rhythm to score a basketball and the officials and technical members decided that it was time to improvised.
The officials opted to remove the troubled shot clock from under the Syracuse basketball and replaced it with a portable equipment on the floor at the baseline.
Officials also decided to even things up at the other end of the floor by placing a shot clock at the Pittsburgh end as well in an attempt to take away any advantage from the Orange.
They would go on to play the entire game with the clocks by the baseline, as the technical staff was unable to change things around at the interval.