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After an Indiana dunk gave the Hoosiers a four-point lead in double-overtime, Jimmy Boeheim missed a layup. The Orange grabbed the offensive rebound and passed it out to Buddy Boeheim for a 3. That shot missed too, but Frank Anselem rose to snatch the rebound from Trayce Jackson-Davis, forcing the Indiana big man into a foul.
Anselem stepped up to the free-throw line for his first attempt of the game. After a deep breath, Anselem stood still and brought the ball up from his waist over his head and deftly dropped the first free throw into the net. The referee passed the ball back to Anselem, and with the exact same motion, Anselem sank the second free throw to make it a two-point game.
IU ran down the other end, and Miller Kopp tried to make it a two-possession game again with a long 3. But his shot rimmed out, and Anselem jumped up to grab another board and was again fouled, this time by Parker Stewart.
Syracuse was in the bonus, so Anselem headed straight to the line again. The center had yet to make two trips to the line in a game all season, but as a hush descended in the Carrier Dome, Anselem calmly drained both shots to tie the game. Anselem’s free throws wrestled back momentum for the Orange, allowing them to take the lead and win the game.
“It just went in,” Anselem said. “Sh*t, I’m happy it went in to be honest.”
Anselem’s four free throws were the only points he scored in Syracuse’s (4-3) 112-110 win over Indiana (6-1). The sophomore center barely played all game but stepped up when Jesse Edwards fouled out near the end of regulation. Anselem said he’d been working on free throws all season and against Indiana, that work paid off.
“If he doesn’t go to the line and make those four, we don’t win,” head coach Jim Boeheim said.
For most of the game, Anselem was rooted to the bench. Edwards has always started at center this season, but Boeheim has used Anselem to give Edwards occasional rests. In the first half, Anselem checked in for Edwards at the 6:58 mark. But just 40 seconds later, he fouled Kopp and Boeheim yanked him back to the bench.
Danny Kahn | Design Editor
Anselem sat on the bench with a stat line of one minute and one foul. As the game wore on, it looked like that would be Anselem’s final stat line. But with 20 seconds left, Syracuse clung to a narrow six-point lead. Edwards just needed to avoid fouling for 20 seconds and the Orange could hang on for a win.
“I told Jesse at the end when we were going back out with a minute or two (left) — I said no matter what happens if the ball goes inside don’t foul,” Boeheim said. “Give them the two, give them the two, and he reaches in and fouls.”
Edwards fouled out, but instead of hearing his name called, Anselem watched Symir Torrence check into the game. He watched as Benny Williams failed to gather what could’ve been a game-winning rebound but was instead a foul that gave Jackson-Davis free throws to send the game to overtime.
It was only at the start of overtime that Anselem finally re-entered the game for the first time since the opening half. Anselem had to anchor Syracuse’s 2-3 zone that was trying to weather the Indiana storm.
“Frank was unbelievable. We needed him to come in there and make some big plays, and he fought,” Joe Girard III said. “It may not show in the box score, but he fought in there.”
Anselem played the entire overtime period and grabbed three rebounds, one of which led to the game-tying free throws. In Anselem’s prior free throw routine, he would bring the ball up with a lot of motion from side to side, something coaches pointed out and led to shots landing off the mark.
Anselem shoots 20 free throws after every practice, with a goal of 18 makes. He said he hits that mark consistently. Now, his arms rise up without shaking and Anselem finishes his free throws with his fingertips, another adjustment recommended by coaches.
For someone who hasn’t even been to the line in two games this year, Anselem managed to find the poise to stick to his free throw routine and sink four clutch shots from the line. But there was a catch: Anselem admitted after the game he had no idea what the score was on both of his trips to the line.
“I mean, if you realize that, you’re putting pressure on yourself,” Anselem said laughing. “It’s like going to bed at night. I just went up there, shot it, (and) it went in.”
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