When Pitt beat Syracuse on Feb. 2, the Orange offense sputtered to one of its worst offensive performances of the season. Pitt limited Syracuse to 55 points and 37 percent shooting.
One reason was freshman center Steven Adams, who was a strong deterrent for dynamic Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who had a tough outing against the Panthers going 3 for 12 from the field while only dishing out only two assists.
“We’re going to try to bring him up and get him out of the middle and move his feet,” Carter-Williams said. “He’s a great player. He makes you change your shot. We’re going to have to try to work around him.”
Much of the talk regarding the rematch is centered on James Southerland, who did not play in the first game due to an eligibility issue. Southerland’s presence will be a factor – he led Syracuse 20 points yesterday against Seton Hall – but Carter-Williams will be just as important.
Carter-Williams is at his best when he is setting up teammates instead of being forced to score. He tied a Big East record with 14 assists versus Seton Hall and he only took six shots.
Southerland, C.J. Fair, who led Syracuse with 20 points in the loss at Pitt, and Brandon Triche did the bulk of the scoring against Seton Hall, which is how the Orange are most successful, according to coach Jim Boeheim.
The victory over Seton Hall was only the second in the past six games for Syracuse. The biggest problem in losing four of its final five games of the regular season was offense. The Orange scored only 39 points in the regular season finale at Georgetown.
The performance against Seton Hall – Syracuse shot 56 percent – went a long way toward restoring some order to the offense.
“I don’t think our confidence was lost,” Carter-Williams said. “I think we had it in us. We had to show it. Our confidence is real high now. We’re in a rhythm. Everyone is happy. We’re sharing the ball with each other. We’re out there having a good time.
“Pitt is a great team. They play tough defense. I think we can give them a tough game and hopefully we can come out with a win.”
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