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Pitt weathers Syracuse comeback to reach quarterfinals
WASHINGTON (AP) — Cameron Johnson scored a career-high 24 points off the bench as Pittsburgh strengthened its NCAA resume by fending off a late run to beat Syracuse 72-71 in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday.
Johnson and Ryan Luther helped Pitt's bench outscore Syracuse's 39-10 to finish a season sweep of the Orange.
After the game was delayed 13 minutes because of shot-clock malfunctions, Pitt (21-10) came back from a cold-shooting start and took over. Syracuse cut its deficit to one point, but Trevor Cooney missed a 3 just before the buzzer.
Michael Gbinije led Syracuse (19-13) with 24 points.
With Pitt ice cold at 5-for-14 shooting including 0 for 5 from 3-point territory, Syracuse jumped out to a 10-point lead with six minutes left in the first half. Then Johnson caught fire, going on a personal 8-0 run with two 3s and two free throws.
Johnson sparked the Panthers on a 15-3 run to close out the first half with a 31-29 lead. Pitt led by as many as 14 points early in the second half before the Orange reeled off eight straight to get back into the game.
A 3-pointer by Jamel Artis gave Pitt a 66-54 lead with just over four minutes remaining. Then Syracuse went on a 14-2 run as Gbinije's dunk with 1:58 left tied the score at 68.
James Robinson stole the ball from Franklin Howard to give Pitt the lead back at 70-68 and made it a four-point lead with a jumper with 22.2 seconds left. A 3-pointer by Gbinije cut it to 72-71, and Sheldon Jeter missed a free throw to give the ball back to Syracuse.
Syracuse: Gbinije has scored in double figures all 32 games this season. ... The Orange fell to 0-2 all-time in the ACC Tournament after not playing last year because of a self-imposed postseason ban.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers halted an eight-game skid in the month of March dating to their victory in the NCAA Tournament in 2014. ... Pitt improved to 20-0 this season when scoring 70 or more points.
Pittsburgh: Faces No. 7 North Carolina in third round Thursday.