Bourama Sidibe’s career performance lifts Syracuse past Pittsburgh, 60-55

first_img Published on January 27, 2018 at 8:46 pm Contact Tomer: tdlanger@syr.edu | @tomer_langer PITTSBURGH — Syracuse’s Bourama Sidibe sat in the visitors locker room in the Petersen Events Center surrounded by reporters. Syracuse’s leading scorer, Tyus Battle, walked right behind Sidibe as he started answering his first question.Typically, most of the reporters flock to Battle as soon as he’s available. But after this game, nobody wanted to leave the freshman center who, up until the start of the game, had scored four points in Atlantic Coast Conference play.“Yea Bourama,” Battle yelled, as a smile crept across Sidibe’s face.After averaging seven minutes a game in ACC play, Sidibe played 31 minutes for SU (15-6, 4-4 ACC). He finished with a game- and career-high 18 points and 16 rebounds, helping lead the Orange to victory over Pittsburgh (8-14, 0-9) on Saturday afternoon.Sidibe had seen a sharp drop in minutes since the Georgetown game in mid-December. He’s been dealing with tendinitis in his knees that often kept his mobility limited.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe’d received two platelet-rich plasma injections to help reduce the pain and swelling. The second one was administered in the eight-day layoff between the first Pittsburgh and Boston College games. Sidibe sat out the BC game, even though he wanted to play.“(Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim) was kind of telling me that I’m not ready, my knee is not ready,” Sidibe said. “I just went today and played and showed him that my knee was fine. I can play.”Sidibe initially came in because of Paschal Chukwu’s ineffectiveness. He got to work on the glass early, picking up eight rebounds in the first half — which would have been a career-high had he stopped there.The freshman center only had four points on one made basket in the half though. Syracuse went into the break with just 22 points as everyone struggled to produce offensively.In the second half, Sidibe began to thrive on a weak Pittsburgh defense. He seemed to always find the right spot to be in to get feeds.Sometimes, Oshae Brissett would have the ball in the high post and would drive, drawing multiple defenders. Sidibe would slide right into the open space and finish an easy bucket.On other plays, Marek Dolezaj would get the ball at the high post. Being less of a threat to score, the defense sagged off him a bit more. But he could still get the ball to a baseline-roaming Sidibe, who would finish with either hand on a reverse layup attempt.Coming out of a timeout midway through the second half, Frank Howard dribbled left from the top of the key. He attacked the basket and floated the ball to the right side of the rim, where a cutting Sidibe rose up and slammed it down.“Bourama was playing amazing today so we were just trying to get him the ball,” Brissett said. “Whoever was in the middle, just try and dump it down to him.”Sidibe seemed as quick as he had early in the season. Early in the second half, the Panthers’ Kene Chukwuka pulled up from 3 from the corner right in front of Pittsburgh’s bench. Sidibe rotated from his position under the basket and sprinted out to the corner in time to tip the shot and block it.There were some obvious moments that Sidibe was rusty or too anxious to make a play. Early in the first half, he traveled trying to post up a Panthers player several feet out of the paint. He also twice fouled a Pitt player attempting a 3-pointer while trying to make a late contest.Still, Sidibe’s overall contribution on the defensive end was solid, as he came up with three blocks and frequently took away Pitt’s looks from the high post.Sidibe said after the game that he feels fine and that he thinks his knee is better than what it once was. Boeheim said that he didn’t expect Sidibe to play 31 minutes in the game, but added that he thinks Sidibe could produce like this every night when healthy.“Bourama was tremendous. He’s been getting better in practice, healthier, he had his best practice of the year this week,” Boeheim said. “He tries to make plays and I thought he was tremendous. He was the difference in the game.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more