If Clemson has any chance to knock off No. 6 Louisville today at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky, then it has to make its free throws. Unfortunately, for the Tigers, that is something they have not been able to do lately.
Despite beating Wake Forest Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson made just 7-of-18 shots at the foul line. The Tigers are just 27-of-63 from the foul in the last three games, 42.9 percent overall. They were 11 for 22 against Duke and 9-of-23 at NC State.
“Obviously, it is something we need to be better at,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “We can’t continue to shoot this poor of a percentage and expect to win games. We had some teams here that were very good free throw shooting teams and some teams have not been as good.”
Despite its poor fouling shooting, Clemson has won four its last five games, including a win over then No. 3 Duke.
“Right now, we are in a little bit of a rut,” Brownell said. “I don’t think we are as bad as we are shooting them right now. But I do think some of it is a little bit of confidence.
“The confidence of a couple of guys has been shaken. That is hard to get past. You have to kind of get past that on your own and the best way to do it is to make a few.”
As a team, Clemson ranks 14th out of 15 teams in the ACC at the foul line, shooting 65.5 percent. Just three players on the team are shooting above 70 percent this year – Curran Scott (77.8), Al-Amir Dawes (75.0) and Aamir Simms (74.4).
After that, key players like John Newman (66.7), Tevin Mack (50.0), Clyde Trapp (36.4), Chase Hunter (63.6) and Hunter Tyson (64.3) are all struggling at the foul line.
For the first 39 minutes and 17 seconds against Wake Forest, the Tigers were just 1-of-10 from the charity stripe. The good news is they made 6-of-8 free throws in the last 43 seconds to win the game.
Clemson is capable of making free throws. In its win over NC State on Jan. 4, at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, it made 26-of-31 foul shots.
“We mix it in all different ways (at practice),” Brownell said. “Sometimes we will take five minutes in the middle of practice. (Thursday), we made three in a row at six different baskets. After practice guys come in and shoot on their own. We will shoot five at a time sometimes. We do a seven-point game that we shoot against somebody.
“It is just a variety of things we do and have done. Actually, we have added a few things this year. The 7-point game is something new and we have done it periodically, this year. So, we will see. But guys are working on them.”
Clemson hopes the work pays off when it faces Louisville at 2 p.m. The game can be seen on Fox Sports South.
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