Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Taking on Syracuse means that your zone offense principles better be sound. Coach Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh had his team ready to take on the famous ‘Cuse 2-3 zone. Attacking zones means you better have good ball and player movement and patience. The Panthers brought all three of those to last nights game, which led to their 65-55 upset win over the No. 6 team in the nation. The message was simple, move the ball and get the win.
Syracuse’s zone has never been much of an issue for Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, who began the day 9-3 against the Orange during his time as the head coach of the Panthers. Once again, his team showed that it is necessary to work the ball from inside first and from side to side.
With the ball hardly staying in anyone’s hands for too long, Pitt had 19 assists on 24 baskets for the game. Granted, some of those happened in their transition attack off of stellar half court defense, but most were created by executing a great zone offense that had a lot of cutting into gaps and emphasized getting every one a chance to touch the ball.
By comparison, the Orange had just five assists total on their 18 field goals. The Pitt defense was suffocating and their opponent did not move the ball enough to create easy baskets. It was a double edge sword for the Panthers, who also had 19 turnovers in the game.
Pitt is now 6-4 in BIG EAST play while Syracuse drops their second conference game in a row. The Panthers are going to continue to be a tough game in conference, especially at home. Teams should also probably not play zone against them either.