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Syracuse kept chipping away at Pittsburgh's nine point lead, turning another disappointing showing into a dramatic comeback.

But like so often this season for the Orange, it came up just a little bit short.

A last minute comeback was derailed by a illegal screen call on Rakeem Christmas with 35.1 seconds left and the Pittsburgh Panthers escaped the Carrier Dome with a 65-61 win to sweep the season series and bolster their NCAA Tournament resume.

syracuse.com, 2013

The last two Syracuse point guards are both headed to Milwaukee as part of a three-team trade, according to an ESPN report.  Michael Carter-Williams and Tyler Ennis were traded to the Bucks on Thursday, along with center Miles Plumlee.  The ex-Orange stars will play for former point guard Jason Kidd, whose team has a 30-23 record this season and sits at sixth place in the Eastern Conference.  

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Welcome back, Rakeem Christmas.

Christmas bounced back from his worst two-game stretch of the season and scored 29 points against No. 12 Louisville and had eight rebounds and four blocks.  It helped Syracuse get its first win of the season against a top 25 opponent, a 69-59 victory in the Carrier Dome on Wednesday night.  Coming into the game, the Orange was 0-4 against ranked teams this season.

"I was just getting the ball in the post and getting to the basket," Christmas said.  "We were wearing down their defense just getting to the basket and drawing a lot of fouls."

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Without the postseason to play for, all Syracuse could do was play spoiler in the third chapter of the ACC's newest rivalry.

The Orange gave a crowd of 35,466 an entertaining show, but it wasn't enough to add another instant classic to the rivalry against Duke.  There weren't any last second shots, last minute ejections or the same down to the wire drama that defined the first two matchups.

Only a good game between two teams playing pretty well.

Brendan Glasheen (@BJ_Glash)

For the first time in 21 games, Rakeem Christmas didn't score at least ten points.

For a change, it didn't matter.

Syracuse's leading scorer only had seven points, but four of his teammates scored in double figures and the Orange used its balanced scoring attack to roll over Boston College, 70-56, in an empty Conte Forum on Wednesday night.  The Orange completed a sweep on the season series against the Eagles, who lost their fifth conference game in a row.

@ZackMolle

The rematch at the Petersen Events Center came with almost all of the same drama, clutch shooting and questionable officiating as in last season's matchup, one that ended in Tyler Ennis' game-winning shot.

But this time, Pittsburgh flipped the script.

Jamel Artis' contested 3-pointer didn't come at the buzzer, but it gave the Panthers a comfortable five point lead with 30 seconds to play, enough to prevent an encore from last year's last second theatrics against the Orange.

Syracuse University has self-imposed a one-year, postseason ban for the men's basketball 2014-15 season, according to a press release from Chancellor Kent Syverud on Wednesday evening.

The ban is part of an ongoing investigation between the university and the NCAA's Committee on Infractions.  It includes the ACC Tournament, the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.  The university said it told the NCAA about the ban before making the announcement to the public.

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Michael Gbinije froze in his place when he wasn't able to blow past Devin Wilson, who draped all over him on the biggest possession of the game.  But like Syracuse, Gbinije didn't panic as he used his pivot foot to slide to his right and create enough separation to put up the soft floater that would decide the game.

The Syracuse Orange, improbably, stormed back late in the second half to stun the Virginia Tech Hokies and a jubilant Carrier Dome crowd.

"This comeback ranks up there with any that I've ever been a part of," Jim Boeheim said.

SU Athletics

Not even another herculean effort by Trevor Cooney could save Syracuse this time.

The junior guard scored 28 points, but North Carolina pulled away in the second half for a 93-83 win in Chapel Hill over Syracuse (14-7, 5-3 ACC).  

"Trev shot the lights out the first half," Michael Gbinije said.  "It's tough. I thought we played our offense very well today and they just played better."

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Syracuse missed its chance at a double-digit point comeback by missing at the free throw line.

Rakeem Christmas scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half, almost single-handedly willing his team back against Miami.  The Hurricanes weren't able to stop him in the paint so they intentionally fouled Christmas to put him at the line with four seconds left and the Orange down by three.

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