Kentucky made just 11 of 23 free throws for 47.6 percent in today’s 80-77 loss at fourth-ranked Louisville. If the Cats had gone just 15-of-23 from the foul line they could have walked off with the upset.
In fact, John Calipari’s club actually shot 11-of-25 from the foul line. Twice, misses by Willie Cauley-Stein were erased by Louisville lane violations. Yet both times, Cauley-Stein missed the second chances.
The first came with 4:22 left and Kentucky down 67-62. The freshman, who started in place of Alex Poythress, missed the first, missed the second, got another chance, then missed again. At the other end, U of L’s Chane Behanan made two foul shots to increase the Cardinal advantage to 69-62.
Then with 2:36 left, UK down 71-64, Cauley-Stein repeated the sequence — miss, miss, lane violation, miss again.
“He will be fine,” said UK coach John Calipari afterward. “He has never been in this environment before; he played football and was a wide receiver. We got him out there and he looked pretty good. He did some really good stuff. We’ve got to work on his free throws, but he blocks shots and does all the other things, I will just tell him to try and not get fouled. (Laughter.) If he does all the other things, we will be good.”
Last time UK shot this poorly from the foul line was Nov. 12, 2010, at least in a game in which the Cats shot 20-or-more free throws. Kentucky was nine-of-23 that day for 39.1 percent in the season-opener for what turned out to be a Final Four team. The Cats beat East Tennessee 88-65 that night, thanks in part to hitting 13 of 26 three-pointers.
By the way, last Saturday at home against Marshall, UK made 21 of 27 free throws. Kentucky came into the game shooting 64.7 percent at the foul line.