The Texas A&M basketball team has several fine qualities as the non-conference portion of the schedule comes to an end and Big 12 Conference play draws near.
As of games played on December 16, the Aggies are No. 15 in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 51.0 percent from the field, and No. 9 in the nation in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 36.1 percent from the field. That number will improve when the next national rankings come out after holding Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Detroit under 25 percent from the field.
The A&M big men have scored at least 20 points in the paint in each of the first 11 games this year as well, and have outrebounded opponents by an average of 11.7 per game (No. 5 in the nation).
Just don't ask any of them to shoot a free throw.
The Aggies are ranked No. 318 (out of 328) in the nation in free throw percentage, shooting just 57.9 percent from the charity stripe. Those kinds of numbers will undoubtedly bite them in the you-know-what in Big 12 games this spring—especially close games in hostile environments on the road.
The Aggies' 57.9 percent performance is down from last year's 71.6 percent average, which leads many people to point to freshman DeAndre Jordan's struggles at the free throw line as the reason for the drop off, but he's just part of the story.
While Jordan is shooting a horrendous 27.9 percent from the free throw line (12-of-43), even without his numbers, the Aggies are still only shooting 62.1 percent from the line.
Joseph Jones, who is No. 2 in school history with 247 career free throws, has seen his free throw percentage plummet this year. A year ago, Jones was averaging 78.1 percent from the line, making 125-of-160 attempts. He's a 71-percent free throw shooter over the last three seasons.
But this year, Jones is shooting a career-low 60.8 percent from the line while leading the team in free throw attempts—a bad combination.
And Bryan Davis' free throw average is also way down.
Last year, Davis was 16-of-22 from the line (.727) for the season. But with increased playing time in 2007-2008, Davis' free throw attempts have already surpassed his total from last year. Unfortunately he's still made less, making just 14-of-28 (.500).
Carter, Kirk and Sloan are each shooting about the same percentage from a year ago, which leaves the blame squarely on the shoulders of Jones, Jordan and Davis, who have combined for just 57 free throws in 122 attempts.
That's a combined 46.7 percent for the Aggies' top three big men.
If towering trio cannot get that percentage up, their free throw attempts will begin to sky rocket as coaches decide to send them to the line in record numbers.
A year ago, the Aggies lost six of their seven games by three points or less. If the Aggies don't figure out their free throw woes, that number may go up as well.
Free throws may cost Aggies
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