West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins was ejected from Saturday’s 77-69 loss at 13th-ranked Kansas, for arguing with officials over foul calls. Huggins felt like the refs were giving his 20th-ranked team a raw deal. He might’ve had a point!
The Mountaineers attempted 14 more shots than the Jayhawks, and made five more shots, and made twice as many from beyond the arc. The point disparity, then, came down to free throws. And this was no ordinary free throw disparity: The Jayhawks attempted 35 free throws in the game, and made 26; the Mountaineers attempted two. Six of the seven Jayhawks players who took the floor Saturday made at least as many free throws as the entire Mountaineers team. Huggins, you can imagine, had some thoughts:
“I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where we shot two free throws. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where the disparity was, what is it? 35-2. I’ve never been in a game like that.”
Not too many coaches have! College Basketball Reference doesn’t go back super far, but since 2010 there’ve been only four college basketball games where one team attempted more than 30 free throws and the other team attempted two or fewer. A couple notes from this list that will not surprise you at all: none of the teams on the wrong end of that ratio were ranked; none of them were worth a shit; and none of them won the game.
So what do you tell your players after they lose by eight in a game in which they’re outscored 26-1 from the free throw line?
“It wasn’t their fault. It wasn’t their fault. And the best way to respond to this is to go in and rest up.”