Cameron Johnson and Ryan Luther flip script on Pittsburgh’s formula to beating Syracuse

first_img Published on March 9, 2016 at 4:16 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3 Facebook Twitter Google+ WASHINGTON — Syracuse had lost to Pittsburgh on Dec. 30 and on Feb. 20. In those games, Pittsburgh’s Cameron Johnson and Ryan Luther combined for 15 total points. The Panthers won both those games the same way, limiting Michael Gbinije, relying on Jamel Artis, and using a late-game run to create separation.It’s been 29 years since Syracuse lost to a team three times in one season. And the Orange snapped that streak against the Panthers on Wednesday afternoon. And it was those two previously irrelevant Pitt players that added an unseen dimension.“They were humungous on the offensive end,” Malachi Richardson said. “We just didn’t get out to them fast enough to stop them on the inside.”Johnson finished with a career high 24 points. Luther added 13 more. They made up more than half of Pittsburgh’s offense and were as clutch late as they were hot early in Pittsburgh’s (21-10, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) 72-71 win over Syracuse (19-13, 9-9) on Wednesday afternoon at the Verizon Center.Pittsburgh’s bench outscored its starters 20-11 in the first half, and helped keep separation in the second half when the Orange mounted a late-game run.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“His improvement has been dramatic. He’s made us better … a lot of big plays from him,” Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said about the redshirt freshman Johnson. “Ryan, too. Ryan gave us some really good minutes. He’s been good against the zone.”Syracuse led by as many as 10 points, but it was two Johnson 3’s that helped bring Pittsburgh back. The second one tied the score at 26. When the Orange cut the lead from 14 to four in the second half, Johnson hit another 3, from the exact same right-wing spot that he made the others from.And on the next possession down — after a Richardson layup, it was Luther that cleaned up his own miss and scored a bucket to keep stalling the Orange’s run. Artis took just five shots, Michael Young made only four. James Robinson waited until the last minute to be effective offensively. It was these two that were the catalyst.“He stepped up tonight,” Gbinije said about Johnson. “We should have done a better job locating him in the zone. We didn’t and he made us pay for it.”The two also led Pittsburgh in rebounding, combining for 11 boards on the afternoon. They were two unknowns coming in. They averaged a combined 9.3 points per game. Syracuse found a way to lose to Pittsburgh three times this season. Two of them followed one formula, but Johnson and Luther had to switch things up to ensure it happened again.“We came here to shoot last night. I thought I felt pretty good,” Johnson said. “Warmups, same thing. Came out early, got some form shooting in. Then went from there.” Commentslast_img

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