In today's victory over No. 18 Connecticut, Syracuse shot 61.5% (24-for-39) from the free throw line. The Orange squeaked out a 79-76 win, but it didn't have to be that close. As a matter of fact, it shouldn't have been that close.
Missed free throws don't jump off the page in a win as they would in a loss. That doesn't mean it should be overlooked.
If the Huskies were to beat the Orange, everyone would be looking at the fifteen missed free throws as the main reason, and rightfully so.
As a team, the Orange are shooting 72.2% from the charity stripe, which is good for 89th in the country. Individually, Syracuse has just three players over 80% with a minimum of five free throws: Michael Gbinije (83.3%) and Tyler Lydon (81.8%).
SU's free throw woes didn't start against UConn. In fact, it dates back years.
Syracuse has had tremendous success over those five season, and are off to a 5-0 start this season. It doesn't change the fact that it needs to improve.
Freshman Malachi Richardson gets to the line the most of anyone on the team. He's 14-for-19 (73.7%). Michael Gbinije is next with eighteen attempts (15-for-18), followed by Trevor Cooney with fifteen (11-for-15) and Tyler Lydon with eleven (9-for-11).
Syracuse typically doesn't have trouble getting to the line when it's a priority, but they do have trouble capitalizing.
Michael Gbinije and Tyler Roberson went 7-for-17 from the line on Thursday in 78 total minutes.
Although only five games into the season, it should be a reason for concern. The Orange have been successful in the past despite poor free throw shooting. But with team that relies so much on 3-pointers and transition buckets, free throws could matter now more than ever.
It hasn't come back to bite them yet, but if these numbers continue, it will.