PITTSBURGH — Tyler Ennis took the inbounds pass with 4.4 seconds left and dribbled up court, weaving through Pitt’s defense. He had the option of shooting or passing to Trevor Cooney.
The Syracuse freshman guard decided to shoot.
It was the right decision.
Ennis made the 35-footer at the buzzer and No. 1 Syracuse remained unbeaten with a 58-56 victory over No. 25 Pitt on Wednesday night.
“I saw someone ran over to Trevor and I just had to beat one guy,” Ennis said. “I knew they weren’t going to let Trevor get it. I just had to get some space. I knew I could get open for a second.”
Syracuse (24-0, 11-0 ACC) and Wichita State are the lone undefeated teams in Division I.
Talib Zanna, who led Pitt (20-5, 8-4) with 16 points and 14 rebounds, hit two free throws after being fouled on a layup attempt to give the Panthers a 56-55 lead before Ennis’ winner.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon called a timeout after the free throws to set his defense. That also allowed Syracuse to draw up a play designed for its fearless freshman.
“We guarded it about as well as you could guard it,” Dixon said. “He made about a 40-footer. We did what we were supposed to do. If we had to do it again. ... We did the right things.
“They were going to get a shot off. He made it, and he made a tough one. We knew he’d have the ball and would be the guy. We had two guys on him. He hit the shot. Our guys defended, and he hit a shot.”
It was Pitt’s first loss at home to a top-five team in the 12-year history of the Petersen Events Center. The Panthers had been 9-0 against top-five teams and 13-1 against teams ranked in the top 10.
“They hit a lucky shot,” Zanna said. “We can’t do anything about it, just move on.”
C.J. Fair led Syracuse with 14 points.
Pitt had a 54-48 lead with less than 2 minutes remaining, but Fair made a 3-pointer with 1:40 to go. He then hit a jumper to make it 54-53 with 51 seconds left. After Pitt missed on the other end, Ennis made two free throws with 10 seconds left to give the Orange the lead.
“C.J. hadn’t hit a 3 all game. He hadn’t hit the rim, and he makes a 3 and then he hits a pretty tough pull-up to give us a chance,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Those were big plays and you have to be a special player to make those plays.”
No. 6 VILLANOVA 87, DEPAUL 62
ROSEMONT, Ill. — Darrun Hilliard scored 22 points, JayVaughn Pinkston had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Villanova beat DePaul for its sixth straight win.
The Wildcats made a season-high 15 3-pointers and had five players score in double figures in an efficient tuneup for Sunday’s Big East showdown with Creighton. James Bell had 16 points and Ryan Arcidiacono finished with 14, including four 3s.
Villanova (22-2, 10-1) opened a three-game trip with its eighth consecutive victory against DePaul. The Wildcats, who lost 96-68 to Creighton on Jan. 20, lead the Big East by one game over the idle Bluejays.
No. 14 KENTUCKY 64, AUBURN 56
AUBURN, Ala. — Andrew Harrison scored 16 points to help Kentucky overcome shooting struggles and hold on for a victory over Auburn.
The Wildcats (19-5, 9-2 Southeastern Conference) won their fourth consecutive game despite making just 17 of 55 shots (30.8 percent).
NO. 20 MEMPHIS 76, CENTRAL FLORIDA 70
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Joe Jackson scored 18 points, Shaq Goodwin added 14 abd Memphis used a late rally to beat Central Florida,
The Tigers (19-5, 8-3 American Athletic Conference) crafted a 15-2 run in the latter stages of the second half to break open a tight game.
Chris Crawford and Michael Dixon finished with 10 points each for Memphis.
Tristan Spurlock led the Knights (9-13, 1-10) with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
No. 24 UCONN 83, SOUTH FLORIDA 40
HARTFORD, Conn. — DeAndre Daniels scored 12 points to lead a balanced UConn offense in a rout of South Florida.
Freshman Kentan Facey added 10 points for the 24th-ranked Huskies (19-5, 7-4 American Athletic Conference), who held the Bulls to just 12 baskets and 24 percent shooting.
Musa Abdul-Aleem had eight points for South Florida (12-13, 3-9) which has lost three of its last four games.
NO. 8 DUKE at NORTH CAROLINA, PPD
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Duke’s game at North Carolina was postponed because of a storm that brought enough snow and ice to paralyze many area roads. The game will be played Feb. 20.
The postponement came about 3½ hours before the scheduled tipoff at 9:10 p.m.
North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham said Duke’s bus couldn’t make it to the Durham campus to pick up the Blue Devils for the 11-mile drive to Chapel Hill.
By wire sources