It wasn’t a great game from Tyler Ennis, but it doesn’t matter if the last shot, the most important one of the night, goes in. Syracuse beat Pittsburgh on a last second heave, and remain undefeated despite two very close games against their former Big East rivals.
Ennis scored the final 5 points for Syracuse: First he hit two free throws to give them a 55-54 lead with 10 seconds left in the game, but Pittsburgh came back with two shots from the line by Talib Zanna with a big 16 points, 14 rebounds night. Ennis had 4.4 seconds to try and save the day. No one was open, although one might argue that Trevor Cooney was better positioned to take that final shot. Ennis had two players on him, but didn’t stop for a second to think that maybe 35-footer isn’t a great idea. Apparently it was.
I saw someone ran over to Trevor and I just had to beat one guy. I knew they weren’t going to let Trevor get it. I just had to get some space. I knew I could get open for a second.
With the huge three from Ennis, Syracuse improve to 24-0, including 11-0 in the ACC, while Pitt conceded their fourth conference loss of the season. In truth, there wasn’t much they could have done about it. They played Syracuse twice as good as anyone’s given the Orange this season, and twice the game got away from them.
We guarded it about as well as you could guard it. He made about a 40-footer. We did what we were supposed to do. If we had to do it again. … We did the right things. They were going to get a shot off. He made it, and he made a tough one. We knew he’d have the ball and would be the guy. We had two guys on him. He hit the shot. Our guys defended, and he hit a shot. They hit a lucky shot. We can’t do anything about it, just move on.
Pitt were ahead 54-48 with less than two minutes left in the game, but C.J. Fair laid the groundwork for Ennis’ finish, hitting a three pointer followed by a jumper that made it only a one point game with 53 seconds left. Pitt missed, and Ennis’ great finish began.
Syracuse don’t usually struggle when it comes to rebounds by they allowed 16 offensive rebounds by Pittsburgh and lost that battle 35-24. But once again, like we’ve seen from them all season – they hardly turned the ball over (8 times) and shot reasonably well, especially from the outside, hitting 42.9% from the field and 42.9% from beyond the arc.
When it comes down to it, it’s not a big surprise that Ennis prevailed as the hero. The freshman is averaging 1.94 points per play in the last 5 minutes of the 2nd half and overtime in 1-possession games, more than double the efficiency of Julius Randle and Jabari Parker, and still a lot better than Andrew Wiggins in these moments. He is now 8-for-9 on field goals, including the game-winning 3-pointer against Pitt, and 14-for-14 on free throws with 6 assists and 0 turnovers.