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Pitt Expecting A Fired Up Syracuse Team Following Ban

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) -- Syracuse announced Wednesday that the university had self-imposed a postseason ban prohibiting players from appearing in the ACC Tournament, nor the NCAA and National Invitational tournaments.

Pitt sophomore Jamel Artis thinks the news will provide extra motivation for the ACC rival in its next scheduled game on Saturday, which is against Pitt at The Peterson Events Center at 4 p.m.

"It's got to be motivation for them. It's got to be coming out and playing hard every possession, even though they aren't going to make it," Artis said. "And I know Jim Boeheim is a great coach, so he's going to tell them to go out there and play hard and play every possession like it's your last."

Syracuse is lead by senior Rakeem Christmas, who has made great improvements since his junior year averaging 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

Jamie Dixon said of Christmas, "He looks thinner, he looks quicker he looks more agile and they are really looking to get him the ball, so I think he has really become a presence offensively and a guy that you can't leave on the block 1-on-1."

Last season Syracuse beat Pitt on an unforgettable deep three-point buzzer beater from Tyler Ennis at home, and Artis said the Panthers are not planning on seeing a repeat.

"That one hurt, it's not going to happen this time," Artis said. "I don't even want the game to be close I want to beat them by at least 10, 5, 7, I don't want it to be a close game at all."

Senior Cameron Wright said that the team loves playing Syracuse because they always play tough and have great players. Syracuse averages 69.3 points per game and in addition to 18.3 points per game from Christmas, Trevor Cooney averages 14.9 and Michael Gbinije averages 11.3.

The highly anticipated game has been declared a "Blackout" for the Panthers and fans in attendance.

"The jerseys are dope and the student section, The Zoo will be poppin' so we are excited for that," Wright said.

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