Saturday’s game at Virginia Tech was a somewhat frustrating affair for Syracuse despite the fact that they managed to hang on for the 68-66 victory. The Orange shot just 39 percent from the field and 57.1% of their free throws for the game, and they were also outscored by 17 points in the second half.
Trevor Cooney led four Syracuse players in double figures with 18 points but shot just 6-for-21 from the field, and Tyler Roberson (11 points, 17 rebounds) grabbed 17 boards in a game for the second time this season.
But back to the free throws, with one of the offenders being guard Ron Patterson, who made just two of his six attempts with his two misses with 4.3 seconds remaining giving Virginia Tech one last shot at the win (which didn’t fall). Following the game Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim asked Patterson about the free throws, and the response given by the sophomore is one that caught Boeheim off-guard according to Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard.
“Ronnie said ‘Well, it was close,”’ Boeheim said. “I said ‘Close? Really? Close?’ We’re in college here. This isn’t high school. My kids when they were in 8th grade said that. It was close? Close isn’t helpful here. That was the quote of the year for me.”
Patterson sheepishly acknowledged his close comment, but insisted that he thought both of his late free throws were going in the basket.
“I thought it was in,” Patterson said. “It just rattled in and out. That’s all. It looked good. It felt good.”
With Syracuse winning the game Patterson’s response is one they can take some amusement from, but that is an area where the Orange as a team need to get better. On the season the Orange are shooting 66 percent from the foul line, and the fact that they’re in the bottom half of the ACC in free throw rate makes the chances they do get even more important.
Given how competitive the ACC will be, and the fact that Syracuse continues to go through stretches in which they struggle from the field, those foul shots will be important moving forward.