PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh scored the first 19 points only to lose the lead, then came back behind Nasir Robinson's 21 points to hand No. 3 Syracuse its first loss Monday night, with a 74-66 victory in a game of remarkable runs.
Brad Wanamaker added 15 points to help the fifth-ranked Panthers (18-1) improve to 6-0 in the Big East for the first time and halt a long Syracuse winning streak for the second successive season.
The Orange (18-1, 5-1), playing without leading scorer Kris Joseph after he sustained a concussion Saturday against Cincinnati, couldn't match the 1999-2000 team's school record by winning their first 19 games. Syracuse won its first 13 last season, only to lose to Pitt 82-72 at the Carrier Dome.
C.J. Fair had 16 points and nine rebounds while Scoop Jardine added 12 points for Syracuse, which rallied from the terrible start with a 17-0 run that helped tie the score at 41 with 13:46 remaining. But Pitt scored nine of the next 12 points as Wanamaker hit a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.
Pittsburgh, winning its eighth in a row, gradually built its lead back to 12 points at 65-53, then made certain Syracuse never got within five points after that despite Brandon Triche's 11 points and Rick Jackson's 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Pitt is 9-0 in the Petersen Events Center against Top 5 clubs, including a pair of victories this season. The Panthers beat then-No. 4 Connecticut 78-63 on Dec. 27.
Pittsburgh's 19-0 run lasted nearly eight minutes, beginning with Robinson's nine consecutive points to start the game — he came in averaging 7.5 — and ending with Wanamaker's dunk.
Syracuse missed its first 10 shots and nearly half of them weren't close. But as inexplicable as the 19 consecutive points were, so was Syracuse answering with a 17-0 run — a burst in which the Orange held the Panthers scoreless for 6 minutes, 35 seconds.
Fair scored three times during a surge that quickly quieted what had become a raucous Petersen Events Center, with the 1,500 students jumping up and down in their courtside seats so furiously that the grandstands shook.
Those two runs were followed by, of course, an 8-0 Pitt run followed by a 7-0 Syracuse run. The surges came with such regularity that one team answered the other's basket only once until Gilbert Brown hit a 3-pointer for Pitt with 5:35 remaining in the half, during a stretch in which Syracuse outscored Pitt 24-7.
By halftime, the score was about where it was predicted to be — Pitt 31-27 — as the Panthers were held to 44.8 percent shooting in the half (13 of 29) despite their remarkable start. And Syracuse came back despite missing 19 of its first 30 shots.
Pitt wound up shooting 48.2 percent (27 of 56) to Syracuse's 39.1 percent (25 of 64). The Panthers outrebounded the Orange 44-30, with Gary McGhee getting 13 rebounds.
Among those in the arena record crowd of 12,925 were a half-dozen Steelers players, including linebackers James Farrior and LaMarr Woodley, and former Heisman Trophy runner-up Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals wide receiver.