Kansas basketball: Jayhawks must solve free throw shooting woes

kansas basketball (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
kansas basketball (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images) /

With Big 12 play just around the corner, Kansas basketball must dramatically improve in this facet of their game to ensure success.

After a season-opening loss to Duke, Kansas basketball has been on a roll winning seven in a row by nearly 21 points.  The only close contest was the Maui Invitational championship overtime victory over Dayton.

With games against ranked Villanova and conference games that consistently produce close games, Kansas basketball has one area that needs serious attention.  Despite being the third-best field goal shooting team in the country at .523, their free throw percentage is an abysmal .665.  That ranks them #259 in the nation for Division I schools.

The Jayhawks do not rely on the charity strip for a major part of their offense as they are tied with several other teams in shooting only the 115th most free throws in the country.  However, in close games, it is an eyesore.  The loss to Duke saw Kansas only shoot 16-26 in free shots, which is a lower percentage than their season average.

If they make just three more free baskets against the Blue Devils they win the game and that is only a team percentage of 73 percent.  Against the Flyers, Kansas basketball managed to sink 71 percent charity shots and nailed 6 of 7 in overtime to secure the victory.

Devon Dotson has been very good from the foul line nailed 88 percent of them and lucky for Jayhawk fans he leads the team in attempts by a long shot.  Up next in tries, however, is Udoka Azubuike and he makes Shaquille O’Neal look like Pete Maravich as he only hits 35 percent of his free throws.

In all, outside of Dotson, the team hits only five and half of their ten free throws.  Teams in conference play and in the tournament will certainly look to exploit this weakness.  It could be that there is not a cure for the shooting woes.  This is not a new issue for the team, it was present last year as well.

As much as we would like to see the Dayton game as a possible turning point, the struggles came back against the Colorado Buffaloes last Saturday.  It was easy to overlook as the Jayhawks easily beat the previously undefeated Pac-10 opponent.  A 12-19 performance resulted in a percentage slightly lower than the season average.

Kansas came back with laser focus against the Milwaukee Panthers on Tuesday nailing 13 of 15 attempts.  If they can continue the success going forward it will make playing close games less anxious for the fans.

Next. Five things to know about UMKC. dark

The Jayhawks have three more games before Big 12 play starts to figure out if they can right this part of their game.  If it does not improve it may be another season without a conference title and a quick exit from the NCAA tournament.