The scene was set for undefeated Syracuse to drop its first game. The No. 1 team in the country was facing a ranked conference team on the road, Pitt, who played Syracuse tough earlier this year. The Panthers led for most of the evening and had a two-point lead with less than five seconds to play as 'Cuse inbounded the ball under its own basket.
Tyler Ennis had a different idea. The freshman point guard hit a shot from way beyond the three-point line to quell what would have been yet another big upset for Pittsburgh in the Petersen Events Center. Prior to Wednesday night, Pittsburgh was 9-0 at its arena when facing a top-5 team.
It was an admirable night for Ennis, who finished 13 points on 3-of-7 shooting. He attacked the hoop relentlessly -- almost too relentlessly -- as a hard foul near the end of the first half left him on the ground long enough to seem like he might have to exit the game. He gingerly got up and finished out the rest of the game. It was a good thing, because Ennis is the most clutch player the Orange have on their squad at the moment.
It was a pretty ugly offensive battle, as to be expected between these two teams. Syracuse went through large chunks of time without field goals multiple times, but the senior leadership of C.J. Fair was there to carry them to the finish line. Fair scored eight consecutive points over the final five minutes of the game to keep the Orange in it before handing the baton over to Ennis for the final five points of the game.
Syracuse's zone flustered Pittsburgh into shooting 36 percent from the floor. The only player who was able to get much going was center Talib Zanna, who finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Most importantly, he had seven offensive rebounds for the Panthers, which directly translated to nine second-chance points courtesy of Zanna's efforts.
It was a disappointing loss for the Panthers, who looked like they were going to just barely scratch out the upset for much of the game. For Syracuse, it proved how hard it is to get through the entire season unscathed, especially when your conference is the ACC. This was one of the harder obstacles to staying undefeated for Syracuse, but with a three-game road swing featuring Duke, Maryland and Virginia looming on the horizon, it certainly won't get any easier.
For now, Syracuse fans can rest easy.
I DONT KNOW WHAT JUST HAPPENED BUT ITS BETTER THAN WHAT I THOUGHT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN AND NOW I CAN WATCH DOWNTON ABBEY IN PEACE.— Sean Keeley (@NunesMagician) February 13, 2014
Connecticut slaughters South Florida, 80-43, or South Florida completely forgets how to score
Connecticut's defense annihilated South Florida in a 80-43 win. The Bulls scored a meager 14 points at half and had twice as many shots blocked (eight) as they did field goals (four). The offense picked up a bit, and instead of losing by 60 points, South Florida only lost by 37. South Florida struggled with every single kind of shot on Wednesday. The Bulls were 12-of-50 from the floor, 2-of-12 from three point and 14-of-26 from the free throw line. They finished with more turnovers (15) than field goals. The Huskies almost had as many blocked shots (11) as the Bulls had field goals.
Connecticut had a completely balanced offensive attack in the game. DeAndre Daniels led all scorers with 12 points before he was pulled with plenty of the second half left. Most importantly, two Huskies got their time in the spotlight as freshman Nnamdi Amilo and sophomore Pat Lenehan each scored the first points of their collegiate careers.
Kentucky powers through offensive struggles in win, 64-56
The Kentucky Wildcats overcame horrid shooting to push past the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday. Both teams left everything to be desired on the offensive end with Kentucky hitting 30.9 percent of its shots and Auburn barely beating the Wildcats out with 32.7 percent. The two teams combined for 37 offensive rebounds.
Chris Denson led the Tigers with 26 points and was the only player in the game who had any sort of offensive rhythm. The backcourt of Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison struggled mightily for Kentucky. The brothers finished with 10 and 16 points, but were a combined 5-for-18 in the game.
Villanova scores more than 80 for third time in four games in win over DePaul, 87-62
As long as the Villanova Wildcats' offense keeps rolling, they will be the toughest out in the Big East. Another balanced scoring attack from Villanova obliterated DePaul, led by Darrun Hilliard II's 22 points. He was one of five Wildcats to score in double figures as the team hit 55 percent from the floor and was 15-of-26 from beyond the arc. DePaul got a big game from guard Brandon Young, who led all scorers with 27 points. After that, it was a steep drop off. Sandi Marcius was the only other player in double figures, and no one from the bench scored more than two points.
Memphis hangs on against Central Florida for seventh win in eight games, 76-70
The Tigers had trouble putting UCF away, but a strong performance from Joe Jackson finally did the job. Memphis' leading scorer went 6 for 6 front the free-throw line in the final minutes to negate a Knights comeback. Jackson finished with 18 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
Memphis is having an excellent season, with every loss coming to a potential Tournament team. The Tigers are now 8-3 in the American Athletic Conference, and hold wins over Louisville, Oklahoma State and Gonzaga.