Major's on the balls

Major Wingate stands 6 feet, 10 inches tall and puts more arc on his foul shots than anyone on Tennessee's basketball team. As a result, you sometimes wonder if one of his free throws is going to soar so high that it brings rain.

There's something else noteworthy about Wingate's free-throw shooting this year: He made just 1 of 6 foul shots in the opener against East Tennessee State and 4 of 8 in Game 2 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. So, two games into the season he was hitting a putrid 35.7 percent (5 of 14) from the foul line.

That isn't terribly shocking, since a lot of big men struggle at the free-throw stripe. The big surprise is this: Wingate bounced back from his terrible start to sink 6 of 6 free throw tries en route to a career-high 18 points in Tennessee's 92-58 Game 3 blitz of Eastern Kentucky last Friday night.

Did he shoot hundreds of practice free throws between Game 2 and Game 3? Did he change his shooting mechanics? Did he consult a sports psychologist? Did he channel the spirit of Allan Houston? Nope, nope, nope and nope. All he did was have a little chat with assistant coach Scott Edgar.

"Coach Scott Edgar told him, ‘Major, you're shooting without getting your weight on the balls of your feet. Get your weight up on the balls of your feet.' That's all we told him," Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl recalled. "He shot well in practice, too."

Pearl paused, grinned smugly and added: "There's a little secret for you."


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