Missing 15 of 22 free throws makes it difficult to beat anyone, let alone the fifth-ranked team in the country. That was the painful lesson Syracuse learned last night in the second game of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. No. 4 Syracuse fell, 74-60, to No. 5 Oklahoma State, the Orange's first defeat this season.
"We like to think we can make free throws," Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said. "But we didn't tonight. I don't think we can play a game of this magnitude and level against a team like Oklahoma State and make 7 out of 22 from the free throw line."
Syracuse entered the game averaging 66.3 percent from the foul line, a number that will drop after its 31.8 percent performance.
Making matters worse, Hakim Warrick, Syracuse's leading scorer, was limited to 4-of-12 shooting from the field and was 5 of 13 from the line. He finished with 13 points.
Josh Pace led Syracuse (7-1) with 20 points, and Gerry McNamara had 18 points. Pace, McNamara and Warrick combined to score 51 of Syracuse's 60 points.
"I think we learned a lot from this game," Boeheim said. "We have three veteran players who are playing very well. For us to be good at the end of the year, they need to get some help."
The twins Stephen and Joey Graham each had 16 points to lead Oklahoma State. Ivan McFarlin also had 16. The Cowboys (6-0) managed to win even though John Lucas, who entered the game averaging 21.2 points, scored 5 points. He made 2 of 11 shots.
The first half was a plodding, low-scoring 20 minutes. When it was over, Syracuse led, 22-21.
"In the first half, that was the worst 20 minutes we've had in a long time," Oklahoma State Coach Eddie Sutton said. "But we've got to give them some credit. Their zone defense was very good."
The Orange jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but neither team was able to take control.
The Cowboys went in front, 17-13, on a layup by Stephen Graham with 6 minutes 11 seconds left, but OSU did not score again until Joey Graham scored on a putback with 1:34 left.
Syracuse was 2 for 11 from the free throw line in the first half, while Oklahoma State was 2 for 6.
"There were some bricks at both ends of the court," Sutton said. "If both of us don't shoot free throws better, it's going to wind up hurting both of us."
Syracuse extended its lead to 4 on a layup by Pace with 16:37 left in the second half, but the Orange could not pull away. Lucas scored his first points of the game on a 3-pointer with 5:52 left that put Oklahoma State ahead, 48-45. The shot ignited an 8-0 Oklahoma State run.
Syracuse struggled over the final four minutes as the game started to slip away. A traditional 3-point play by Stephen Graham with 3:53 remaining gave Oklahoma State a 58-48 lead, all but ending Syracuse's chances.
No. 11 Pittsburgh 70, Memphis 51
In the first game of the doubleheader at the Garden, No. 11 Pittsburgh, in its first significant test of the season, dominated Memphis, 70-51.
Improving to 6-0, Pitt jumped out to a 17-3 lead with 15:38 remaining in the first half and never trailed.
Pitt's five previous victories were against Howard, Robert Morris, Loyola (Maryland), St. Francis (Pennsylvania) and Duquesne, teams that had a combined record of 10-21 before yesterday. Pitt entered the game having outscored its opponents by an average of 28 points a game.
"Going into this game, everyone says that we haven't played anyone and this was our first big test," said Chris Taft of Pittsburgh. "The Big East itself is a crazy conference. We are a real good team, so it doesn't matter who we play. We went in with that attitude. We just wanted to go out there and show everybody who we are. Our best game hasn't come yet."
Memphis fell to 5-3; all three losses have been against ranked teams.
Despite shooting just 36.7 percent from the field, Pitt took a 41-23 lead into halftime. The Panthers scored 17 points from the foul line in the first half, compared to 4 for Memphis.
Apparently not pleased with the officiating, Memphis Coach John Calipari was called for a technical foul midway through the first half.
Carl Krauser led Pittsburgh with 17 points, although he made just one of nine field-goal attempts. He was 15 for 18 from the free-throw line.
Sean Banks led Memphis with 18 points and hit 7 of 19 shots from the floor. Tigers forward Rodney Carney, who was averaging 19.6 points a game, was 4 of 8 from the field and finished with 11 points.
Pitt's roster includes seven players from the New York City area, including the starters Taft and Krauser and the freshman guard Ronald Ramon.
No. 1 Illinois 78, Chicago St. 59
Luther Head had a game-high 17 points and Dee Brown added 15 along with nine assists as top-ranked Illinois cruised to a 78-59 victory over Chicago State at Assembly Hall on Monday.
The Illini (7-0) earned their first No. 1 national ranking since January 24, 1989 when the latest AP poll was revealed on Monday. They shot 51 percent (32-of-63) from the floor and outrebounded the Cougars 38-21 to record their seventh straight double-digit victory to start the year.
Deji Akindele compiled 14 points and seven rebounds, while Tony Weeden scored 13 points for Chicago State (0-5), which is still searching for its first victory of 2004-2005.
Head netted 14 first-half points and the Illini sank seven three-pointers before intermission to build a comfortable 47-32 lead at the break.
Illinois then put the contest out of reach with an 11-1 run midway through the second half. James Augustine recorded seven points during the flurry, including a layup with 8:25 to play which put the Illini up 67-41.
No. 7 Connecticut 97, Northeastern 60
At Storrs, Connecticut, Josh Boone scored a career-high 19 points and posted a season-best 14 rebounds to lead No. 7 Connecticut to an easy 97-60 victory over Northeastern at Gampel Pavilion.
Charlie Villanueva netted 17 points and Denham Brown contributed 15 for Connecticut (4-0).
Marcus Barnes led all scorers with 20 points for Northeastern (2-4), which has lost three of its last four games. Jose Juan Barea had 10 points and a game-high eight assists in the loss.
Boone led Connecticut with 10 points in the opening 20 minutes. UConn shot 41.5 percent from the field in the half, despite going 0-for-5 from three-point range. Boone had 10 rebounds in the half, and the UConn went 9-for-12 from the free throw line to take a 43-28 into the break.
Barnes scored 16 points in the first half on 7-of-15 shooting for Northeastern, while the rest of the team combined to shot 4-of-30 in the opening half.
UConn's lead continued to grow throughout the second half, as the Huskies routed a squad with a matching nickname. Game Notes
Iowa State 81, No. 19 Virginia 79
At Ames, Iowa, Curtis Stinson hit a go-ahead three with 18.6 seconds remaining and finished with 30 points, leading Iowa State to an 81-79 upset of 19th-ranked Virginia at Hilton Coliseum.
Stinson was just two shy of his career high on 10-for-19 shooting, including 5-of-6 from three-point land. Jared Homan added 14 points for the Cyclones (4-1), who improved to 21-1 at home under head coach Wayne Morgan with only their second win ever against ACC opponents.
Devin Smith accounted for nearly half of his team's offense with a career-best 40 points while Elton Brown added 13 for the previously unbeaten Cavaliers (6-1).