After watching his unflappable freshman point guard once again produce big plays down the stretch to lift Syracuse past Pittsburgh, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim uttered the words that heretofore would have been blasphemous from the Salt City all the way to Scranton. Tyler Ennis had just scored six consecutive points in the final two minutes of the game as Syracuse fought from behind to edge Pitt 59-54 in front of 30,046 fans at the Carrier Dome. Ennis drove to the basket from the right side to give Syracuse a 53-52 lead with 1:48 remaining in the game. Then he put the ball in his left hand, drove past Pitt's 6-foot-9 center Talib Zanna for a left-handed layup, giving SU a 55-52 lead with 30 seconds remaining. Then, after two Pitt free throws, Ennis calmly swished a pair of foul shots with 4.8 seconds on clock for a 57-54 lead — and the game was essentially over. Ennis, whose play was reminiscent of a young, Indiana era version of Isiah Thomas, had scored 16 points, dished out three assists, taken away one steal and turned the ball over just once in 40 minutes of play. He had so impressed Boeheim that the 69-year-old Hall of Famer who is in his 38th year as the Orange's head coach, compared Ennis to none other than Gerry McNamara. And for full effect, Boeheim added Carmelo Anthony's name to the conversation. "He's a mature player,'' Boeheim said of Ennis. "Some freshmen are. Carmelo was pretty good. Gerry was pretty good. Some freshmen are capable as freshmen to be able to do those things and he's one of those guys.'' Ennis' performance helped Syracuse improve to 18-0 overall. The Orange took over sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 5-0. Syracuse is off to an 18-0 start for the third time in the last four seasons. The school record for most wins to start a season is 20-0, which was set in 2011-12. Pittsburgh fell to 16-2 for the season and 4-1 in the ACC. In addition to Ennis' 16 points, Syracuse got 13 from C.J. Fair, 12 from Jerami Grant and 10 from Rakeem Christmas. Fair, Ennis and Grant played the entire game for Syracuse. Lamar Patterson scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half for Pittsburgh. Patterson hit three consecutive 3-pointers to bring Pitt back from a 37-27 deficit early in the second half. Syracuse led by as many as 10 points early in the second half, but the Orange had to rally late to keep its record perfect for the year. Pitt had a 52-49 lead and had the ball with a little less than four minutes remaining in the game. But the Panthers didn't score a point for over four minutes. Pitt missed eight straight field goal attempts in the stretch. The scoreless ended with Michael Young's two free throws with 4.8 seconds remaining. By that time, Ennis had won the game for the Orange. In Syracuse's post-game locker room, McNamara, the legend turned assistant, agreed with his boss' evaluation of Ennis. "He's special,'' McNamara said. "There's no doubt about it. Tyler's a special player. I think we've seen down the stretch of basketball games that he's capable of making big plays.''
Syracuse basketball rallies late as Tyler Ennis leads Orange past Pittsburgh
Syracuse.com | Jan 19