Free throws deciding factor in Syracuse’s 93-85 loss to No. 5 North Carolina

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The disparity in free throws grew larger and larger. It was only the first half, but North Carolina had developed rhythm.As Syracuse fell into foul trouble, the Tar Heels attacked the paint more. They didn’t shy away from contact, rather went up against it. The result was a 34-for-37 performance from the free throw line, as No. 5 North Carolina (23-5, 13-2 Atlantic Coast) pulled away from Syracuse (18-10, 9-6) late in a 93-85 win inside the Dean Smith Center. The Tar Heels are now winners in 11 of their last 12. The Orange, meanwhile, finished 13-of-23 from the charity stripe, a 56.5-percent clip, their seventh-worst performance all season.“Our free throw shooting was bad, and theirs was very good,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “And they got a lot more of them, so that was a contributing factor in the game.”Last season, Syracuse had been a successful free-throw shooting team, one that found its way to the line often and converted. The Orange added two sharpshooters to their 2019 squad, establishing a reason for optimism and another successful performance from the line. Syracuse ranked fourth among the ACC in free throw percentage last year, yet have dropped to dead last in 2019.In over half its games this season, Syracuse has shot under 66 percent from the free throw line. The majority have come in conference play, too.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFree throws are an area the Orange address each practice, senior point guard Frank Howard said. The frequency changes based on the day and circumstances — like how soon after the game, how the team has done from the line recently or the nature of practice as a whole — but each player works at them in some capacity each day.One of those players that Boeheim said continually works on his shot — both free throws and around the perimeter — is sophomore forward Oshae Brissett. His dominance around the rim has begun to take the next step, as seen by his multiple and-1 opportunities on Tuesday night. But the free throws that followed went in-and-out.Brissett missed all five of his free throws against UNC and made 1-of-4 versus Duke three days prior. He ranks fifth among consistent rotational players in free throw percentage, and his season average from the free-throw line has dropped 11.5 percent since last season.The reason behind his and the rest of the team’s struggles from the line is unclear. Multiple players said the team needs to just go to the line and shoot, not letting a miss affect confidence. Boeheim said the team just couldn’t finish its opportunities.“When you go to the foul line that many times,” Tyus Battle, who finished with 29 points and shot 11-of-14 from the free-throw line, said, “especially in the first half, you start to get better at the line. It becomes easier.”North Carolina, meanwhile, remained aggressive throughout. Heading to the free throw line, at least for Tuesday, seemed to have correlated with success. In the first half alone, the Tar Heels took 21 free throws to the Orange’s five. SU missed three, while UNC missed just two.Coby White shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line on a career night where he added 34 points. By game’s end, nearly 37 percent of the Tar Heels’ points came via the charity stripe. Only 15.3 percent came from the free throw line for SU, and outside of Battle, the Orange combined to finish 2-for-9.“You have to read how the refs are calling the game,” Battle said. “When they’re calling fouls like that, and you’re shooting that many foul shots, you got to attack us every time.”It was a blip on an otherwise successful day for Syracuse. The Orange led by three at halftime and finished the game shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from 3. Both of those are among SU’s top-six performances on the year. But it was overlooked because the game ultimately came down to free throw success.Nearly 30 minutes into the game, with Syracuse trailing by a pair, Elijah Hughes stood at the free throw line with a chance to tie the game. The Orange had just battled back from down nine, in a game that seemed to have slipped away.Both Hughes shots clanked off the rim and out. The second miss seemed to have deflated the Syracuse bench, while the Tar Heels faithful erupted. The Orange would never tie the game again.“We got to make free throws, simple as that,” Hughes said. “They went to the line, they made their free throws and that was a huge difference in the game.”center_img Published on February 27, 2019 at 1:05 am Contact Charlie: [email protected] | @charliedisturcolast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *