No. 20 Pitt Shocks No. 4 Syracuse 76-69
PITTSBURGH - Carl Krauser and Chevon Troutman led Pittsburgh's second consecutive comeback from a 17-point deficit against a ranked opponent, withstanding long scoreless stretches to drive the No. 20 Panthers to a 76-69 victory over No. 4 Syracuse on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh, rallying much as it did the previous Saturday in beating then-No. 16 Connecticut 76-66, took command with a 13-0 run midway through the second half as the Orange failed to score for 6 1/2 minutes.
Krauser scored all 19 of his points in the second half after not scoring for nearly 23 minutes and Troutman, held scoreless for the first 14 1/2 minutes, had 18 points and nine rebounds for Pitt (14-3, 4-2 Big East).
Keith Benjamin, a seldom-used redshirt freshman guard who had scored only two points in Pitt's previous 13 games, keyed the comeback by coming off the bench for 10 points — as many as he had all season.
The Panthers had lost three of five, including two in a row at home to Bucknell and Georgetown, before beating UConn and Syracuse in succession.
Gerry McNamara scored 26 points on 7-of-17 shooting and Hakim Warrick had 25, but no other Syracuse player scored more than four as the Orange's 13-game winning streak ended. The Orange, the highest-ranked opponent to play at Pitt since the Petersen Events Center opened for the 2002-03 season, were playing their first ranked opponent since losing to then-No. 5 Oklahoma State 74-60 on Dec. 7.
The Orange (20-2, 7-1) opened a 22-5 lead by holding Pitt to two field goals in the first 10 minutes and seemed well on their way to their second consecutive victory in Pittsburgh. Syracuse ended Pitt's 40-game home winning streak last season by becoming the first visiting team to win in the Petersen Center.
Pitt is 9-43 against Top 5 teams, but has won its last three at home against such opponents.
McNamara was in double figures with 10 points before Pitt made its second field goal of the game, but Benjamin came off the bench to hit two quick baskets and start the Panthers on a 22-9 run that cut Syracuse's lead to 31-27.
Pitt tied it for the first time at 38 on Krauser's second 3-pointer in two possessions before Syracuse answered with a quick 6-0 run for a 44-38 lead. But Benjamin's 3-pointer and two free throws and Aaron Gray's tap-in started the 13-0 run that put Pitt up 51-44. At that point, Pitt had outscored Syracuse 46-22 since trailing by 17.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon went to Benjamin mostly out of desperation after freshman guard Ronald Ramon quickly drew three fouls and starting guard Antonio Graves had trouble getting open shots against Syracuse's zone defense. Graves did not score in nine minutes of playing time.