CINCINNATI (9-3) AT NO. 22 PITTSBURGH (11-3)
Time/TV: 7 p.m./FSN
Outside of Xavier it's difficult to think of many two-game losing streaks this season that have sparked as much concern nationally as the one Pittsburgh is currently going through. A team that looked preoccupied with their Christmas break plans on Friday in a 59-54 home loss to Wagner dropped another game on Tuesday, 72-59 at Notre Dame. The second half was a serious departure from what the Panthers do on both ends of the court, with Notre Dame being able to accomplish just about whatever they wanted to offensively.
Plenty of teams have pre-Christmas letdowns, when they allow their minds to wander a bit against teams they're expected to beat. But in a lot of those cases the favored team is able to bounce back and do enough to eventually win the game. But that wasn't the case for #15 Pittsburgh, who turned the ball over 18 times against a team in Wagner that was talented enough to make them pay for those errors.
To this point in the season Dion Waiters was playing more minutes per game than senior starter Scoop Jardine, as the Syracuse sophomore was playing good basketball. But Jardine displayed his value in the second half of Friday's game against Florida, scoring eight of Syracuse' nine points during a critical stretch that put the Orange in control of a game they went on to win 72-68. Jardine finished with 16 points and seven assists while Brandon Triche (20 points) and Kris Joseph (14) also finished in double figures.
The title game of the Old Spice Classic may not be the kind of matchup that leads off SportsCenter like say, North Carolina/Kentucky next week, but it is a contest that we could look back on in March when discussing tournament resumes. Dayton (4-1) and Minnesota (6-0) meet in the title game, with both surviving a pair of close games to reach this point.