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Updated: Sunday, January 25, 2004 12:04 AM EST
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(9) Pittsburgh 66, (16) Syracuse 45

SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was worried about his team's rebounding ability, a problem exacerbated by ninth-ranked Pittsburgh.

Mark McCarroll and freshman Chris Taft each scored 15 points as the Panthers posted a 66-45 Big East Conference victory over the 16th-ranked Orangemen, the lowest-scoring effort of Boeheim's coaching career.

Pittsburgh (19-1, 5-1 Big East) used its bulky frontcourt of McCarroll, Taft and Chevy Troutman to create a number of second opportunities. The Panthers had 11 second-chance points by halftime and Boeheim scrapped his famed 2-3 zone for man-to-man defense midway through the second half.

"The sad thing about tonight is that our defense is as good as its been all year," Boeheim said. "We just didn't rebound off of our defense. They had too many second and third chances."

The only other time Syracuse was held below 50 in Boeheim's 28-year career was a 65-47 loss to Massachusetts in 1995-96. The Orangemen lost to Kentucky in the national championship that season.

"I'm obviously happy with our effort and execution," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "The unselfishness and toughness we've shown all year was there again tonight. This team is full of character and they believe in each other."

Troutman's basket before the half capped a 9-2 run that gave Pittsburgh a 29-23 lead. The Panthers continued to control the glass and McCarroll and Troutman each scored five points in a 14-3 burst for a 50-32 cushion with 10:33 to go.

Syracuse (13-3, 3-2) lost its second straight following a 13-game losing streak. Gerry McNamara, who suffered a groin pull in Tuesday's loss at Seton Hall, struggled again and finished with eight points.

Pitt held a 50-36 rebounding advantage as Troutman grabbed 11 and Taft eight. The Panthers knew they had to work the glass to bounce back from Monday's loss at Connecticut and converted 20 offensive boards into 16 points.

"We played very aggressive defense tonight," Taft said. "We had a really tough loss at UConn and wanted to come back tonight and play harder than we did Monday. We just work real hard on the glass."

Syracuse shot 27 percent (15-of-55) as McNamara and Billy Edelin combined to make just 5-of-19 attempts. The Orangemen were held to their lowest point total since a 71-41 loss to Kansas on December 14, 1968 in coach Roy Danforth's first season.

"Pitt is a very physical team, a veteran team," Boeheim said. "I think they're better than last year. They're just too physical and too strong for us right now."

The defending national champions led just once, 21-20, on McNamara's 3-pointer with four minutes left in the first half. It lasted only 24 seconds before Jaron Brown countered with a basket.

Syracuse also turned in a bad performance at the line, connecting at 44 percent (11-of-25). Hakim Warrick collected 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Orangemen.

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