The Syracuse Orange, improbably, remains undefeated. Syracuse, which had trailed for almost the entire game, stunned the Pittsburgh Panthers and a capacity crowd at the Petersen Events Center as Tyler Ennis drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for a 58-56 victory here on Wednesday night. Syracuse trailed 56-55 with 4.4 seconds left as Jerami Grant inbounded the ball to Ennis. The freshman point guard dribbled across halfcourt before launching his game-winner. "I knew I didn't have that much time,'' Ennis said. "I just got it and tried to get down as fast as possible. That was the first open look I got. I knew I had to take it.'' Ennis' big shot sucked the air out of the sold-out Petersen Events Center. A crowd of 12,935 suddenly went silent. The Syracuse players mobbed Ennis. "Tyler came up with a play to go down in history,'' SU senior C.J. Fair said. "That was a big shot.'' The No. 1-ranked Orange improved to 24-0 overall and 11-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The game was a near mirror image of Syracuse's 59-54 win over Pittsburgh earlier this season at the Carrier Dome. In that game, Ennis sparked a late Syracuse rally with two driving baskets. On Wednesday, Ennis scored Syracuse's last five points. And his game-winning shot came on a play that wasn't even designed to go to Ennis. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said he wanted Grant to throw a long inbounds pass to Fair, who had stationed himself at midcourt. When Grant looked downcourt, Fair went long, but Pittsburgh's Lamar Patterson shadowed him like an NFL defensive back. "It wasn't as open as we thought it would be,'' Grant said. "I definitely wanted to at least get a shot up. I thought if I threw it long, I feel like he would've swiped the ball.'' Seeing Fair covered, Grant looked to Ennis. Boeheim had noticed that Pitt had taken a defender off Grant and used him to double-team Ennis. "I didn't know if we could get him the ball,'' Boeheim said. Ennis hesitated on the inbounds play and then cut away from his defenders. Then he steamed upcourt before pulling up about 35 feet from the basket. "I was watching the clock the whole way down the court,'' Ennis said. "I knew I had at least a second left.'' Syracuse had not led since the 14-minute mark of the first half until Ennis sank two free throws with 10.8 seconds remaining to give the Orange a 55-54 lead. Pitt brought the ball upcourt, working the ball around to Patterson. The senior forward drove into the lane and bounced a pass to Talib Zanna. Syracuse center Rakeem Christmas fouled Zanna with 4.4 seconds left. Zanna, a 61 percent free throw shooter, made both free throws for a 56-55 lead. Syracuse was out of timeouts, but Pitt coach Jamie Dixon called one to set up his team's defense. "It helped us get things set up,'' Boeheim said. Ennis' last-second 3-pointer will go down in history along with other Syracuse buzzer-beaters including Pearl Washington's half-court heave to beat Boston College, Conrad McRae's shot to beat Villanova in 1993 and Gerry McNamara's three to beat Georgetown in 2004. "I felt like it was going in,'' Grant said. "I don't know how to explain it. I just felt like the shot was good.'' Fair led Syracuse with 14 points, while Ennis finished with 13. "I was on the box, I was about to go up for a tip. I saw it go in and I got hoarse in about five seconds," Fair said. "I was so ecstatic. I've never been a part of something like this. I'm just glad we got the win."
Ennis keeps Syracuse unbeaten with 3-pointer at buzzer to beat Pittsburgh, 58-56
Syracuse.com | Feb 13