Teams are expected to make the majority of their free throws. They are, after all, free throws. Three point attempts are a bit more challenging, and knocking in over a third of your attempts is about all a coach can really demand (although hitting more is nice). That’s because you’re shooting from farther back, in motion, angled against the backboard, and typically with a hand in your face. Teams should be better at free throws than three pointers.
The Jug only brings this up because last night in Fort Worth, Kansas State managed to nail 53 percent (9-17) of its three point shots but only 40 percent (4-10) of its free throws. Leading the way in this trend was Rodney McGruder, who went three of six from downtown but oh for two at the charity stripe. Truly wild stuff.
The game’s final score read 67-54, as the 13 point lead K-State took into halftime was never in doubt during the second quarter. And while the Wildcats have become accustomed to low scoring affairs, the game wasn’t anywhere close to normal last night. K-State has never been a consistent free throw shooting team, but it typically finds itself engaged in physical match ups with a lot of personal fouls. And while 21 were meted out to K-State players (an average night), the Horned Frogs were only whistled ten times. It was the result of a deliberately slow tempo that saw consistent perimeter passing – eventually leading to open looks that allowed the 9 for 17 three point shooting.
On the other end, K-State’s defense was able to frustrate an impotent TCU team into shooting only 38 percent en route to 54 points. The one aspect of the game TCU was able to limit the Wildcats was rebounding – K-State recorded only 30 boards Wednesday night although it averages 40. However, the Horned Frogs only recorded 28 themselves, as the low overall total was a result of the slow and deliberate tempo observed throughout the night (you can’t get a lot of rebounds when there aren’t a lot of shots being made).
As K-State advances to 14-2 and 3-0 in Big 12 play, Rodney McGruder looks to have officially made this his team. It took a little longer than fans would have liked, but he put up an impressive stat line for the third straight night. Against TCU he compiled 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 32 minutes of play. And although he missed both of his free throws, his shooting was otherwise so efficient (9-15, .600) that his performance can’t be denied. K-State has a rough week ahead, as it faces the two remaining teams with undefeated records in Big 12 play (3-0 Oklahoma this Saturday, and 3-0 KU on Tuesday). Both games in Manhattan.