A statistical analysis of Syracuse in close games

Fair has been SU's best player in the clutch

With Syracuse losing its last three games seemingly in the last two minutes of the game, I figured it would be a good time to take a closer look at what’s been going on.

The metric is simple: I looked at shots from the field and at the free throw line if the game was within 10 points at any time within two minutes left.

Fair has been SU’s best player in the clutch

Hank Domin of Syracuse.com did something similar back in January with seven games (Arkansas, Detroit, Temple, Providence, Villanova, Louisville, Cincinnati), but Syracuse has played an additional six games in “clutch” situations since he did his analysis. It’s also worth noting that Syracuse has lost five games since Domin’s Jan. 28 analysis.

So, included in the new numbers are: Feb. 2 against Pitt; Feb. 13 against UCONN; Feb. 16 against Seton Hall; Feb. 23 against Georgetown; Feb. 25 against Marquette; and March 2 against Louisville. I’ll go over each game, tabulate the totals, and then making some findings.

» Related: Syracuse needs a confident Brandon Triche going forward

Let’s start with the Pittsburgh game on Feb. 2, a 65-55 loss for the Orange:

Brandon Triche 0/2 0/1 2/2 2
Michael Carter-Williams 0/2 0/1 0/0 0
CJ Fair 2/3 1/2 0/0 5
Baye Moussa Keita 1/1 0/0 0/0 2

SU’s next “clutch” game was against UCONN on Feb. 13, a 66-58 loss:

Brandon Triche 0/3 0/1 1/2 1
Michael Carter-Williams 0/1 0/0 0/0 0
CJ Fair 2/3 1/2 0/0 5
Rakeem Christmas 0/1 0/0 0/0 0
James Southerland 0/1 0/1 0/0 0
Trevor Cooney 0/2 0/1 0/0 0

Seton Hall barely fits this category. If you remember, Syracuse was in control for most of the second half, but SHU did get to within 8 points with under a minute left. So the 76-65 win on Feb. 16 counts:

Brandon Triche 1/1 1/1 0/0 3
Michael Carter-Williams 0/0 0/0 1/2 1
CJ Fair 0/1 0/1 0/0 0

Next on the docket was Georgetown on Feb. 23:

Jerami Grant 0/0 0/0 1/2 1
Michael Carter-Williams 0/0 0/0 2/2 2
James Southerland 0/1 0/1 0/0 0
Brandon Triche 1/1 0/0 0/0 2

Two days later, SU lost to Marquette 74-71:

CJ Fair 1/1 1/1 0/0 3
Michael Carter-Williams 2/2 1/1 0/0 5
James Southerland 2/6 2/6 0/0 6

And finally Syracuse’s loss to Louisville over the weekend:

CJ Fair 1/1 1/1 0/0 3
Michael Carter-Williams 0/1 0/1 0/0 0
Brandon Triche 0/1 0/0 2/2 2

So if you combine these stats with the stats that Domin had on Jan. 28, you get:

Michael Carter-Williams 5/15 2/7 15/22 27
CJ Fair 7/10 4/6 9/10 27
Brandon Triche 3/10 1/4 7/9 14
James Southerland 4/12 2/9 2/2 12
Trevor Cooney 1/4 0/1 1/2 3
Jerami Grant 0/1 0/0 3/4 3
Baye Moussa Keita 1/1 0/0 1/2 3
Totals 21/53 9/27 38/51 89

» Related: Syracuse’s best, worst and most underutilized lineups

Some observations I made:

  • Fair is the team’s leading scorer (14.6), 3-point shooter (43.6) and second best free throw shooter (80.7), so it makes sense that he’s the best on the team in these categories in close games. Needless to say, you want the ball in his hands when the game is on the line.
  • Carter-Williams is fourth on the team in scoring (12.5) and third on the team in shots attempted (304) but he’s more likely to take the shot than anyone else on the roster. That’s also not surprising given that the ball is always in his hands as the point guard. As for his outside shooting, he’s shooting 28 percent on the season from 3-point land, and lo and behold, he’s shooting 28 percent in “clutch situations.”
  • Meanwhile, Triche, the team’s second leading scorer (14.2) and the player who’s taken the most shots on the team (343 – the next closest is Fair at 321), defers to his teammates with the game on the line.
  • Southerland’s statistics aren’t necessarily a fair sample size considering that he was academically ineligible for five of the games SU was in a close game. Still, 2 for 9 from 3-point land for your best shooter (he’s actually at 39 percent on the season, so he’s not statistically the best, but you know what I mean here) is a little concerning.
  • The Orange is shooting 74 percent from the line in “clutch” situations, but the rest of the time, they are shooting at a 68 percent clip.

What are some of your thoughts on these stats? Voice your opinions below or Tweet us your opinions!

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]sujuiceonline.com.