Syracuse Basketball: Loss to Temple Exposes a Glaring Weakness

Barry Leonard@@barryleonardjrAnalyst IIIDecember 24, 2012

Dec. 22, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange forward C.J. Fair (5) drives to the net as Temple Owls forward Anthony Lee (3) defends during the first half at Madison Square Garden.  Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Stop if this sounds familiar: The Syracuse Orange struggled from the free-throw line in an 83-79 loss to the Temple Owls. The Orange took 34 attempts from the stripe but were only able to convert on 19, good enough for a miserable 56 percent.

Missing free throws has unfortunately become a trend at Syracuse over the years. The Orange have averaged 67 percent from the line over the past five seasons. 

Through 11 games this season, Syracuse is shooting 65 percent from the line and is ranked 274th in all of Division I.

Against the Owls, sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams, who is shooting 71 percent on the year, made just seven out of his 15 attempts from the charity stripe. He had an opportunity to tie the game late with two shots but was able to hit only one to keep it a one-point game.

That was as close as the Orange would get at the end. C.J. Fair was the only bright spot at the line, converting on all eight of his attempts against Temple.

Sure, it's only one loss to a quality opponent in a long season, but 'Cuse fans may have reason to worry as the season goes on. Once Big East play starts, and especially come tournament time, a few missed free throws could be the difference between winning and losing the close games.   

The poor shooting from the stripe had not affected the Orange through the first ten games of the year as they won each game by an average of 26 points.

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Clearly, as the competition gets tougher and the score gets closer, Syracuse is going to have to improve its foul shooting.

Just ask the 2007-08 Memphis Tigers. They were one of the best overall teams in the country but ranked 339th in the nation in free throws. During their 75-68 overtime loss in the championship game against Kansas, the Tigers were unable to hit foul shots down the stretch.

Syracuse hopes its fate is different.

There's no question that head coach Jim Boeheim has a talented and experienced team that could make a deep tournament run come March. However, for that to happen, the team free-throw shooting has to be an area of concern and focus moving forward.

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