Syracuse Orange's Free Throws Key to Win over Pittsburgh, Can It Lead to March Madness Dominance?

By Phil Naegely
Mark Konezny – USATODAY Sports

Throughout the season, the Syracuse Orange have played some tough opponents and prevailed in close games. This is because of their free-throw shooting success. On Saturday against the No. 22 Pittsburgh Panthers, ‘Cuse went to the free throw line often down the stretch and won the game 59-54 due to clutch free throws made.

On the night, Syracuse went 13-of-18 from the line and shot approximately 72 percent. It is very clear that the trips to the charity stripe paid off and prevented Pittsburgh from finding a way of keeping a favorable lead. When the Panthers did find a lead, the Orange quickly cut the lead and eventually kept the lead due to made free throws.

This hot free throw shooting should come as little surprise. Syracuse’s free throw season average is hovering just a tad lower than 70 percent. This stat shows the main reason why the Orange men are still undefeated even though they’ve faced some of the nation’s top college basketball programs.

Looking ahead to the rest of their season, Syracuse will live or die based on their free throw shooting. With a 35 percent three-point shooting average, the team’s majority of plays involved driving to the basket and trying to draw a foul. If they continue to penetrate the lane and earn trips to the line, the ACC first-place team should easily find their way into both the ACC postseason tournament and as one of the top seeds in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

With poor three-point shooting and average field-goal shooting percentage of 46 percent, Syracuse’s success is attached to how they succeed behind the line.

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