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Feb. 12, 2014

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No. 1 Syracuse at No. 25 Pitt, Petersen Events Center, February 12, 2014

No. 1 Syracuse 58, No. 25 Pitt 56


Quoting Pitt coach Jamie Dixon

Opening Statement:

“Well, I’ll state the obvious and say that we are extremely disappointed. We felt that we had played well enough to win, but obviously they hit a couple shots and the big one down the stretch capped it for them. I’m proud of our guys for the way they rebounded ad their execution against the zone defense was good. Obviously there are still some things that we know we have to improve on. We continued to get the ball inside, which is something that we don’t always do. I am really proud of Talib (Zanna) and the way he played, knocking down those free throws late was huge for us. I don’t know if anyone can really understand how much he has grown up. I really thought we played well for almost the entire game, but at the end of the day it is a loss. The jumpers that (C.J.) Fair hit and obviously the final bucket by (Tyler) Ennis were crucial. I thought we guarded it as well as you can guard it. I thought we made him catch the ball as deep as you could catch it, which is what we wanted to do and he hits a fourty-footer. If you do it again, I think we did the right thing; he just made a great shot. We knew he was the guy, we knew he would take the last shot, and we had two guys on him.”

On the defensive call for the last play of the game:

“If you had told us that he was going to catch it on the baseline with four seconds left and make that, well I don’t know. When you force that player to catch it on the baseline, I think you have done almost everything you can defensively and he still hit the shot. During the timeout we talked about the funnel guy really double-teaming the ball handler and I thought Cam (Wright) did a tremendous job of doing that. That’s what we did and the kid still hit the shot. Regardless, this game cannot stick with us. Obviously it hurts and there is going to be a lot of talk about this one, but that’s about it. We need to get ready for Saturday and play better.”

On not scoring most on possessions late in the game:

“We knew we had to be patient. You are not going to get good shots against this defense early in the shot-clock, much like our own defense. That’s why there were two pretty good defensive teams out there and I think that showed. We tried to be patient, but obviously we weren’t able to convert enough baskets down the stretch. We were up six and couldn’t score on two possessions, they get the ball and score on both, and then the three-ball by (C.J.) Fair was enormous. They hit the free-throws in transition and then got that shot to fall. Obviously we would like them to miss more shots.”

On calling a late timeout to set up the defense:

“Last second decisions are always going to be questioned, but I thought we did everything we could to make it more difficult. I don’t know if that timeout gave them the opportunity to say, “OK, let’s catch the ball deep, dribble up the floor, and hit a forty-footer with two guys on us. I don’t think that is what they were saying in the huddle, but if it is, I guess that is why he has 900-something wins. I will be the guy to take the blame if the timeout is the reason that we lost. 

On the ultimate key to the game:

“Obviously you look at a guy like (Tyler) Ennis with all that he can do.  I think I saw a statistic that he hasn’t turned the ball over in the last five minutes of a game all season. He is as good a point guard as there is in the country and having guys that are that solid is important for any successful program. In no way do I think our defense is the best that we have had. There is always going to be room for improvement. They definitely had some guys who hit shots, but we need to find a way to defend better and not give up as many of those shots.”


Quoting Pitt forward Lamar Patterson:

On the effects of the loss on the team:

“It’s tough on the team, but you can’t be too down on yourself.  They got a win by hitting a fifty-footer.  There’s not much you can do about that, it was just meant for them to win.  I’m proud of these guys, we battled and we out rebounded them by a lot.  It’s something to move forward with.”

On Talib Zanna being clutch with free throws:

“It was big time.  He’s a fifth year senior.  He knew what he had to do and he went up there and did it.”

On not being able to finish with the late lead:

“They did everything right.  Like I said before, he just hit that prayer.  It was a great shot.”

On strategy for penetrating the zone:

It was pretty much the same thing.  We knew we wanted to get inside the zone.  We did that and we did a great job at that.  We just weren’t able to pull it off.

On team’s confidence:

“I don’t think our confidence ever went anywhere.  We’ll be fine.  The season isn’t over.  We have more games ahead of us.”


Quoting Pitt forward Talib Zanna:

On team doing enough to win the game:

“I think we did a good job.  C.J. (Fair) hit a tough shot, there were hands in his face and it was a basket.  We just have to move and get ready for Saturday.”

 On Jamie Dixon’s message to the team postgame:

“Keep our heads up.  Don’t be down.  Go home and relax.  Come tomorrow, ready for practice to get ready for Saturday.”


Quoting Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim

Opening statement:

“Our offense could not get anything going all night because of Pitt’s defense. I think the major reason we have trouble with Pittsburgh is because they play great defense. They’ve just played great defense against us over the years. Everyone wants to talk about offense and their offense against us. Our defense was fine all night. Win or lose, our defense was excellent. Our offense just wasn’t good. When C.J. (Fair) made the three that gave us a chance. When it was a four-point game, it was just enough time to get a good possession, come down and score and get back, knowing there’d still be enough time to get another possession. We really felt that there was too much time left, because Tyler (Ennis) went to the basket and with 10 seconds left, Pitt made a really good play. (Lamar) Patterson got in the lane and we just didn’t defend it as well as we needed to. (Talib) Zanna made the two free throws just like Tyler had—clutch. We really played excellent down the stretch with obviously C.J. making his three and then the jumper, and then Tyler making the two free throws. We’ve played good in-game situations all year, probably the way we’ve played for the first 36, 37 minutes of most games. We probably should be about 20-4 or 19-5, but in the last three or four minutes we’ve been just about perfect in all those situations. We’ve been down four or five, three or four, six or seven times this year and we’ve been able to finish games. On the last play, we wanted to go to C.J., the second option was Tyler, and there was enough time to dribble down. It worked for Duke against us and it worked tonight. What can I say? It was a great basketball game with two teams that gave everything they had out there.”

On the rebounding differential in tonight’s game:

“The rebounding hurt us. We had 17 shots at halftime and they had 28. We got that a little bit closer in the second half. I think we were only down four (rebounds) in the second half. We’ve been rebounding better this year as a whole. Pittsburgh’s beat us both games on the boards, and that happens. Some long threes bounce crazy. They got a lot of threes. We didn’t do a good job keeping them out of the lane. That’s the one thing we wanted to do and we didn’t do it very well, like on that last play. We wanted to keep them outside. They do a good job of getting in the lane and making players in there, but again, it wasn’t our defense. If we lose by two, or whatever, our offense just wasn’t good enough, and our defensive rebounding. Those were the two real things that happened.”

On whether or not Ennis’ buzzer-beating three was “lucky”:

“It’s a little lucky, but I didn’t hear Duke saying they were lucky when they drove up the length of the court and made an off-balanced three to tie the game. I didn’t hear anybody saying they were lucky. You have to do it. You have to make the play. The ball goes in. That’s not luck. He took the shot and he made the shot. He didn’t throw it from half-court or three-quarters court. That’s not lucky. He dribbled it up, he had a purpose, he got up in the air and he took a good shot, and it went in. It happens sometimes, but he was poised to do it. They took a timeout to set their defense up and it helped us get something set up too. We were really going to try and throw it long, and that’s what we wanted to do, and then (Tyler Ennis) was the second option. Unlike most coaches, we had never practiced that play.”

On his thoughts regarding the final shot of the game:

“I don’t think those shots are going to go in, really I never do. When he shot it, I saw his release, and when I saw the ball, I thought it was going in. Honestly, I said, “That’s going in.” It could’ve rimmed out very easily, but when he shot it I thought, “Yeah, that’s going to go in.” Tyler (Ennis) is a tough kid. He made the two free throws to put us in the lead. He’s done that all year at the end of games. Both him and C.J. Fair, they’ve done that at the end of games for us. We won the game because we were six behind. We made a stop and then we made a three, and then we made two more stops and got the lead, and that’s what won the game. We made plays. They had opportunities where they could’ve scored and the game would’ve been over. They had two tip-ins down there that could’ve gone in and put the game away. We made plays. We made good plays and we’ve made good plays all year. We haven’t had to make the last play yet, but tonight we did. I guess you can say there’s some element of luck when you make a long shot like that, but I thought Lamar Patterson made two threes from eight feet behind the line too.”

On the benefit of timeouts called in the final minutes:

“I think the (timeout) helped a little bit. We got a chance to get two things. We were going to throw it to Tyler (Ennis) and it looked like they were doubling him, so I didn’t even know if we could get him the ball, and he got the ball. Then I thought he had enough time to get down and get a shot. I don’t know what it was when he took the shot, on the clock. It was one or what, but I thought he couldn’t get it, at least that far. But again, when that thing goes in, there’s certainly an element of luck. I think the thing that I think about from this game is being six down. We were down the whole game. We couldn’t get back in front and being six down is difficult, because they’re going to take 35 seconds. We had to come down and score. C.J. (Fair) had to hit the three, we had to hit the jump shot and Tyler had to make the free throws. So there were three have-to-dos on offense and two stops, and then we needed one more stop that we didn’t get.”

On the contributions of different players on both ends of the court:

“It’s been different guys. Tyler (Ennis) has made some of the plays, C.J. (Fair) has certainly made a lot of the plays, as he did tonight, and (Rakeem Christmas) got a big block down there. Everybody on this team makes a play. It’s not one or two; it’s everybody that’s capable. I thought (Rakeem) did a great job tonight. He’s been a little bit reckless sometimes, but tonight he was very good. I thought Michael Gbinije was very good. I thought he came in and gave us a great first half. I thought he really played well in the first half. That was really good. This team has made plays, and really, honestly, in all reality, if we hadn’t played pretty good at the end of games we’d be 20-4, or 19-5, maybe. We’ve won every one and it hasn’t been like we’re even in those games. We’ve been behind in those games. It’s just been that kind of a team. They’ve made plays when they’ve had to make plays on both ends.”


Quoting Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis

On his play to win the game:

“I’ve been in that situation before, but obviously not at this level, but I’ve been practicing that shot before in the gym and actually I had a practice of that shot at halftime with a similar situation running down and it went off the rim. I made it the second time around though.

On if the halftime shot was going through his head during the final play:

“No, not at all. C.J. (Fair) actually reminded me after and it was pretty much the same spot on the right side of the basket but it was just a big shot.”

On how he got open for that final play:

“I think somebody for Pitt ran to Trevor (Cooney) because he was on the same side as me and I know somebody took him away. I pretty much had to beat one guy, there were two guys around me but I knew I could get open for a split second.”

On whether the two free-throws late in the game or the half-court shot was more nerve racking:

“They’re equal (laughs). We practice free-throws a lot, so you have to have confidence and you might miss a few in a big moment, but you have to have confidence. That shot you don’t really know where it’s going to come from, how far you’re going to get down the court or if they’re going to double-team you so I’d probably say the shot because you don’t know where it’s going to be.”


Quoting Syracuse forward C.J. Fair

On his play during the final two minutes of the game:

“They did a good job of making my job difficult today but I didn’t want to lose and I got a couple opportunities at the end and we then we got a couple stops to seal the game.”

On his two big baskets late in the game:

“On the three, I got a good screen from Rakeem (Christmas) and I saw Pitt trailing and I saw an opportunity and took it. Then I got another opportunity to score and I did and they were big plays for both me and my team.”

On his reaction to the game-winner from Tyler Ennis:

“I was under the hoop about to go for the tip and I saw it go in and I got hoarse in five seconds. I was so ecstatic, I’ve never been part of something like this and I’m just glad we got the win.”


Post-Game Quotesheet

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