Howard leads Syracuse past Pitt 59-45
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By MARK FRANK
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Frank Howard saw to it that Syracuse didn't make history Tuesday.
The Orange had never lost five games in a row in the 42-year tenure of Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, but coming off a disheartening double-overtime loss at No. 23 Florida State, that prospect loomed - even against a Pittsburgh team that entered the Carrier Dome winless in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The last time Syracuse lost five games in a row came during the 1968-69 season.
Howard's 18-points, career-high seven rebounds, five steals and four assists led the Orange (13-6, 2-4 ACC) to a much-needed 59-45 win over Pittsburgh (8-11, 0-6), snapping a four-game losing streak.
Tyus Battle, who scored just four first-half points, had 15 for Syracuse. Oshae Brissett added 10.
Freshman Parker Stewart, who entered the game with a 7.3 scoring average, tallied a career-high 23 points for Pitt on 8-of-14 shooting, including 7 of 13 from beyond the arc. His previous high was 14.
"We really needed a win, we really needed to get it," Howard said. "We're going to ride the ups and downs and fight through adversity. . I think we're going to be locked in now. We don't want to panic and want to keep confident."
Syracuse didn't exude much confidence for much of the game, clinging to a 37-35 lead with less than 10 minutes to go when the tide turned. Led by Howard, who had nine points and Tyus Battle, who chipped in with seven, the Orange outscored the Panthers 22-10 the rest of the way.
"We turned the ball over too much to win a road game in this league," said Pitt coach Kevin Stallings. "We had trouble attacking their zone, but we just didn't take good enough care of the ball to win, and that seems to be a little bit of a problem for us. It doesn't really matter what the defense is, it can be zone or man. We just turn it over too much."
The Panthers committed 18 turnovers and Syracuse took advantage, scoring 16 points off Pitt's miscues. Pitt leads the conference with 14.9 turnovers a game. Syracuse outscored Pitt 28-12 in the paint. The 45 points were a season low for Pitt.
Syracuse closed the first half on an 8-0 run, fueled by Tyus Battle's four points to take a 27-22 lead at the intermission. Pitt went without a field goal for more than seven minutes.
"We had that look when we lost four straight games - `What are we going to do?' Boeheim said. "Earlier in the year we played Toledo and Buffalo and Oakland. Those teams are as good as Pittsburgh or better. I'm encouraged by how close we came (in the losses). We should have won two of those road games."
Syracuse is now off eight days before facing Boston College Wednesday at the Dome, and Boeheim is looking forward to the break.
"We need practice days, more than any team I've ever had," he said. "We need everyone to get involved. We have a long way to go. I think these days will help us."
The Panthers may have uncovered a 3-point shooting gem in Stewart.
Syracuse has lots of work to do to get to .500 in the league and start thinking of post-season play. The offense has a long way to go and shows little signs of improving.
THE LINEUPS THEY ARE A-CHANGING
Stallings employed his 14th different starting lineup of the season.
Howard turned it over but raced down court to block a breakaway dunk attempt by Khameron Davis.
Syracuse failed to score 60 points for the fourth time this season.
Pitt faces No. 5 Duke on Saturday.
Syracuse has an extended break before hosting Boston College on Jan. 24.
Updated January 17, 2018