Junior forward Nasir Robinson netted a game-best 21 points Monday night, including the contest's first nine, to help the Pittsburgh Panthers (No. 5 in the AP poll and No. 4 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) defeat visiting No. 3-ranked Syracuse Orange, 74-66, in an anticipated Big East Conference match up at Petersen Events Center. Syracuse freshman guard C.J. Fair played 36 minutes off the bench and scored a collegiate-best 16 points to help SU, which trailed 19-0 in the first eight minutes, make it a contest.
Syracuse (18-1, 5-1) had its 18-game winning streak snapped and fell just one win shy of tying the school record for best start to a season -- the 1999-'00 squad started 19-0. The Orange, which moved from No. 3 to No. 4 in the latest college basketball polls, released Monday, will host No. 7 Villanova Wildcats on Saturday (noon on ESPN).
On eight of 13 shooting, Pittsburgh (18-1, 6-0) jumped out to an impressive 19-point advantage. However, SU responded with a 17-0 run, led by six points from Fair, to turn the game into a competitive showdown. The Orange, who trailed 31-27 at the half, tied the game at 41-41 with about 14 minutes remaining after sophomore forward James Southerland nailed his second 3-pointer. Pitt answered with a 12-6 run that helped the Panthers take a 53-47 lead with 9:15 remaining. Pitt never looked back and earned it's first 6-0 Big East start in program history.
Orange senior forward Rick Jackson earned his 16th double-double of the season by netting 10 points and snagging 11 rebounds. Jackson also added three blocks. Junior guard Scoop Jardine scored 12 points, including four 3-pointers, but shot just 4-for-13 from the field. Syracuse's leading scorer, junior forward Kris Joseph, did not play because of a head injury suffered Saturday in a 67-52 win over the AP polls No. 25-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats.