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TCU Basketball's Poor Free Throw Shooting Is Costing Them Opportunities To Compete

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The Frogs have not been a good free throw shooting team in the Trent Johnson era, but is it really hurting them that badly?

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Free throws, much like the penny, are often overlooked as worthless. It's only one point, so it's not a big deal if you miss one. Right?

Sure. If you miss one or two free throws in a game, it probably won't hurt you too badly. Miss four or five, yeah, you can get away with that too.

Miss 61 in your first five conference games, though? That's going to cost you. Big time.

That's how many TCU has missed in the first five Big 12 conference games this season. Sixty one. TCU has missed 61 free throws in five games. In those five games, games in which they've gone 1-4, they're 84-145 from the charity stripe, for an awful 57.9%.

Monday night against Texas was their worst display yet. The Frogs went 9-of-23 from the line. That's 14 missed free throws in an 18 point loss. As I wrote in the postgame thread:

It might not seem like much in a blowout, but let's just say by some miracle TCU made all of its free throws tonight. All else the same, it's a 66-62 ballgame. Free throws change games, and when you keep missing them, it'll kill you.

What's even more disturbing than knowing that a simple thing such as making free throws could have kept TCU in a game that felt like they were simply out matched? Looking at their other three losses.

TCU lost to Baylor by seven points, 66-59, in overtime. They missed 13 free throws in that game.

TCU lost to Kansas State by five, 58-53. They missed ten free throws in that game.

TCU lost to West Virginia by eleven, 78-67. They missed 13 free throws in that game.

For those that can't do the math, in four Big 12 losses, TCU has missed 50 free throws. They've lost by a total of 41 points in those four games.

The Frogs competed in all three of those losses. They held leads for extended periods of time in those games. Making free throws in those situations could not only have made the score closer, but it could have changed the outcome of the game. In fact, I am willing to bet, based on how good TCU's defense is this season, that they go at least 2-1 in those games.

This is the basketball equivalent of TCU football losing four games by a total of 11 points in 2013.

What this ultimately tells me is two things.

First, this team is actually pretty good. Sure, they still have a ways to go offensively, but things change for an offense when free throws start falling. Here's the thing, if you make your free throws, teams stop fouling you. They know it'll cost them. That hesitancy opens up driving lanes a bit, makes players second guess for a bit, and another thing, it makes opposing coaches plan differently. If I'm an opposing Big 12 coach right now, I'm saying "don't make it easy, but don't be afraid to foul them if they're going to get a good look."

Second, what it tells me is that the defense is doing what it needs to do for this team. They're holding Big 12 opponents to just 62 points per game, which is great. They're rebounding well, rotating well, and generally working well. They just need to step up offensively, and they need to make their free throws.

So no, I will not stop tweeting sad free throw stats.

I will not stop tweeting about absurd things Trent Johnson needs to do to fix the issue. It needs to be fixed, and the sooner it is, the sooner TCU will actually be a competitor.