first_img Comments Published on March 12, 2019 at 10:25 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Syracuse (19-12, 10-8 Atlantic Coast) will face a Pittsburgh (14-18, 3-15) team streaking in the opposite direction on Wednesday night in the ACC Tournament. SU has lost two games in a row, but the Panthers have won two-straight games. That includes an 80-70 win over Boston College on Tuesday night in the ACC postseason’s opening round.Pitt fell behind 7-0 before Panthers’ head coach Jeff Capel called a timeout to settle his team. From that point on, Pittsburgh took control of the game to set up a Wednesday 9 p.m. meeting with the Orange.Here’s what we learned about Pittsburgh from its win on Tuesday night.Perimeter paradePittsburgh’s strength comes in its perimeter depth. The Panthers don’t have lots of size, but they have tons of guards to rotate through and onto the opposition’s top scorer. That’s what they did against Ky Bowman, BC’s star, while they held him to six points in the first half and 3-of-10 shooting for the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPregame on their matchup whiteboard, the Panthers write down an individual defender for each opposing player. Next to Bowman’s defender was listed in parentheses, “Pitt.” That meant the whole team was expected to make it tough on him.“We just tried to make him see Pitt all day,” Panthers guard Jared Wilson-Frame said. “… That was our mentality today, just trying to guard him as a team.”The same could be true come Tuesday night against Syracuse star guard Tyus Battle. He scored 22 points in the first meeting against Pitt this season, but that declined to six points on 2-of-13 shooting the second time around. The Panthers have discovered how to slow down opposing perimeter stars as the season has gone on, and their young guards have risen to the challenge.Fresh facesPittsburgh is led in scoring by freshman point guard Xavier Johnson. He dominated Boston College’s man-to-man defense Tuesday, dropping 14 in the first half and 23 for the game. His fellow freshman backcourt mate Trey McGowens led the way against BC with 26. But both their strengths are driving by people and finishing inside. “When we’ve been at our best this year, these two guys have been able to put pressure on the defense and get to the foul line,” Capel said.Pittsburgh freshman guard Xavier Johnson leads the Panthers in scoring this season. Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerAfter Johnson went  6-of-11 from the floor against SU in January, the numbers dipped to 2-of-11 in the second meeting. McGowens combined for 10 points across the two meetings. Syracuse forced both to shoot from the perimeter, and that’s not their best option. While McGowens made both of his 3s against BC, the freshmen guards consistently turned down somewhat open 3s for the chance to penetrate toward the basket.Syracuse’s zone isn’t friendly to drive-happy guards. The 2-3 hopes to keep players around the perimeter and not attacking the rim. Johnson and McGowens will probably have to hit shots, but they feel like their attacking approach can work against the Orange, too. McGowens said that the dribble-drive can lead to kick-outs, and Johnson added that Pitt needs to choose to attack “at the right moments.”“These two guys, they’re athletic, they’re fearless, and they can attack and they can put pressure on a defense,” Capel said. Facebook Twitter Google+ Fitting a Wilson-FrameThe last time Syracuse played Pitt, SU head coach Jim Boeheim was glad the Panthers’ most-veteran player is a senior. That’s Jared Wilson-Frame, Pittsburgh’s second-leading scorer who said Tuesday that SU was his dream school. He shoots 39 percent from 3, and BC’s coaches pointed him out as “shooter” on multiple Eagles’ defensive possessions.“He makes shots against us every time we play,” Boeheim said Feb. 2. “Every time. Tough shots, too.”Wilson-Frame hit two first-half 3s on Tuesday, looking comfortable shooting from multiple feet beyond the arc. That’s the look most available against the 2-3 zone of Syracuse, and he’s the guy Pitt needs to open up driving lanes for freshmen like Johnson and McGowens, who aren’t as jumper-inclined. “Playing against the zone, you know you’re gonna have gaps where you’re gonna have to shoot,” Wilson-Frame said. “Being the team’s best shooter, I kind of do relish that, knowing that I’m gonna try to be there for my team.”In the second half, Wilson-Frame showed his veteran savvy, as well. On an open catch near the left wing, the senior pump faked to allow a closing BC defender to fly by him. Then one dribble and a knocked-down 3 followed. He’s looking forward to playing Boeheim once more.“I want to hit shots,” Wilson-Frame said. “I’m pretty sure I’m gonna hit shots at some point during the game. I just want to get that win so I can kind of say something back to him, you know, that’s my guy.”last_img read more