Poor Free Throw Shooting Nearly Dooms Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE -- Under the threat of running sprints, they've thrived at shooting free throws.

The threshold set by Arkansas coach Stan Heath is 80 percent. His players must convert eight out of every 10 free throws they take in practice. Or else, they run. And he bragged that they recently hadn't been running much.

Maybe the same rule should apply for games, though. Arkansas nearly let Division II California (Pa.) back into its 75-68 exhibition victory Monday night because of brutal second-half free throw shooting.

Heath tried to explain the poor showing as an anomaly, the result of an uncharacteristic drop in energy.

"The thing that you learn as a coach is that when guys aren't as intense as they should be and aren't as focused as they need to be, it shows up on the free throw line," Heath said.

Junior point guard Gary Ervin tried to shoulder some of the blame.

He missed the first two of 13 Arkansas' free throw attempts in the final 20 minutes.

"I think a lot of it had to have been my fault," Ervin said. "After I missed those first couple everybody starting missing. I take pride in being a leader, and everything starts with me."

The statistics didn't reveal Ervin, who made 5 of 9 free throws, to be the only Razorback at fault.

Charles Thomas missed four. Patrick Beverley was off on both of his tries. Sonny Weems misfired on two, and Steven Hill, Stefan Welsh and Sean McCurdy each hit just 1 of 2.

Heath wasn't too worried about the second-half free throw woes. He said his team would continue to conduct free throw practice under "pressure situations."

That likely alludes to more threats of extra conditioning.

"I really can't explain what happened in the second half," Thomas said. "Maybe we need to run more in practice so that we can make more of them in games. I think it probably just had a lot to do with our overall attitude on the floor.

"It definitely needs to get more consistent."

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