With the game tied at 55 and less than two minutes to play, the Carrier Dome was in a state of disbelief as Georgie Tech drove up the court with a chance to take the lead. The Orange had won four of their last five games – including wins over Duke and Notre Dame – and had re-entered the NCAA Tournament conversation, but were now at risk to losing at home to the lowly Yellow Jackets.
Then Michael Gbinije recovered a loose ball and sprinted down the court before getting fouled by Marcus Georges-Hunt. However, rather than a loud ovation, the Dome was filled with a mixture of halfhearted cheers and cringe-worried faces. "Foul? F**k," one Syracuse student mumbled, in essence saying what was on the minds of the 25,000 Syracuse fans in attendance:
Meh who needs free throws, right? Apparently Syracuse scoffs at the opportunity to add points easily.— Mid Major Matt (@MidMajorMatt) January 30, 2016
Syracuse really needs to work on their free throws. If they were good at them they would be a significantly better team. #SUvsGT— claire (@claireelf3) January 30, 2016
SYRACUSE HAS MISSED MORE FREE THROWS THAN ANY D1 PROGRAM IVE SEEN— My Twin Buck (@KNUCKifuBUCK4) January 30, 2016
The Orange have been an infamously poor free throw shooting team for years, and this season has been no different. Heading into Saturday afternoon's game, Syracuse had made just .683 percent of their free throw attempts – tied for 224 out of 351 schools in the country. Surprisingly, for the first 38 minutes against Georgie Tech, the Orange were somehow worse – shooting an abysmal 46 percent from the line.
DaJuan Coleman was three-for-four, Tyler Roberson oh-for-two, Malachi Richardson one-for-four, Gbinije two-for-three, and Franklin Howard one-for-two. So you can forgive that Syracuse student, and all other fans, if they weren't dripping with confidence when Gbinije headed to the free throw line with a chance to give the Orange the lead with just 85 seconds left to play.
And then, at least for a brief two minutes, Syracuse's free throw shooting woes were gone. Gbinije drained both of his attempts to give the Orange a two point lead. Malachi Richardson is fouled twice down the stretch and goes three-for-four at the line, and the Orange somehow reverse their free throw shooting fortunes and escape with a nail biting 60-57 win.
It wasn't pretty, but when it comes to Syracuse and hitting free throws, it rarely is.