PITTSBURGH (AP) Tray Woodall had 13 points, four assists and three steals as Pittsburgh continued its mastery of Top 10 teams at home, pulling away from No. 6 Syracuse in a 65-55 win on Saturday.
Trey Zeigler added six points, four rebounds and four assists off the bench for the Panthers (18-5, 6-4 Big East), who improved to 13-1 against teams ranked in the Top 10 since the Petersen Events Center opened a decade ago.
C.J. Fair led Syracuse (18-3, 6-2) with 20 points and Brandon Triche scored 14 but the Orange never led in the second half while losing two straight games for the first time in nearly two years. Michael Carter-Williams added 13 points for Syracuse but the nation's leader in assists finished with just two - nearly seven below his average.
The Panthers needed a win over a bold-named opponent to boost their nice - but hardly overwhelming - resume. Pitt came in just 1-3 against ranked teams, the lone win a 25-point romp over Georgetown last month that sent the Hoyas tumbling out of the polls.
This one should have a little more resonance.
The Panthers controlled the final 20 minutes and never really allowed Syracuse to get going. The Orange, down to seven scholarship players because of injuries and other personnel issues, shot just 37 percent (18 of 49) and was dominated on the backboard. Pittsburgh outrebounded Syracuse 39-24. The Panthers had 14 offensive rebounds, allowing them to extend possessions and slow down the game.
The game was tied at 35 midway through the second half when Pitt took control for good. Cam Wright hit a 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring to put the Panthers in front. Lamar Patterson followed with a pullup jumper and Steven Adams put back a miss that allowed Pitt to push in front 41-35.
Freshman Durand Johnson followed shortly thereafter with a 3-pointer of his own. The ebullient swingman put his fingers over his eye in celebration and moved in front 48-39. Syracuse never got closer than five the rest of the way as Pitt made its free throws after going just 3 of 12 at the line in a loss at No. 12 Louisville on Monday.
It wasn't exactly the bounce back performance Syracuse needed after a long week to think about a 75-71 overtime loss to Villanova.
The Orange played without center DaJuan Coleman, who underwent left knee surgery on Tuesday that will sideline him for at least four weeks. Coleman's injury significantly shortened Syracuse's bench, though depth was hardly necessary during a methodical, hard fought first half in which neither team could muster any momentum.
Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone has never been much of an issue for Pitt under coach Jamie Dixon. The Panthers began the day 9-3 against the Orange during Dixon's tenure and, after a slow start, Pitt once again found the little creases in Syracuse's defense to get open shots. The Panthers started the game 1 of 8 but finished the half 12 of 26, with all but two of the buckets coming off assists.
The result was a 27-25 halftime lead, Pitt going ahead on a dunk by Talib Zanna after Zeigler slashed to the middle then fed Zanna sprinting to the basket from the corner. Pitt finished with 19 assists on 24 baskets, the kind of unselfish play Dixon insisted was necessary to give his team a breakthrough win.