UCF did not attempt a free throw for the first 28.5 minutes of the game. They shot 19 in the last 11.5 minutes. UH attempted 38 FTs including 26 in the second half. The game was pretty much about free throw shooting – so here are some of the stories and stats from the line.
They’re Free: Dejon Jarreau scored 12 points Friday night despite going 0-for from the field. #3 was 0/6 from the floor in 22 minutes but shot 12/14 from the stripe.
Speaking Of Freebies: Chris Harris is not a great FT shooter – I don’t think that’s unfair. Coming into this season, Harris was 10/48 in his career – just 20.8%. But the big man has definitely been working on it.
For the current season, Harris was 4/9 going into the AAC opener – a nice step forward for the senior. But Friday night, Harris went 4/4 from the line. How big a deal is that? Two years ago, Harris made 4 free throws. For the season.
Harris was 10/48 in his first two seasons at UH but is 8/13 this year (61.5%). Real progress.
Why So Many Free Throws? Friday night’s crew chief Doug Sirmons was back at Fertitta for the second time this season. He is considered one of the country’s top refs: KenPom rates him as eighth-best referee nation-wide (he was #1 last year and #2 in 2018). Sirmons worked the Houston/Oklahoma State game in December.
He’s noteworthy for a couple of reasons: first, he’s just a good referee. But also: the two teams shot 45 combined free throws in the second half. What’s that about?
Here’s our theory: Sirmons was on his third game in three nights. The refs were not going to run and gun with the crew chief having gone from Dallas to Charlotte to Houston in the first three days of 2020. UH/UCF was Sirmons’ 43rd game in 60 nights of the 2019-2020 season.
In the four minutes from the under-12 until the under-8 timeout in the second half, UH attempted 14 free throws while the teams combined to shoot 18 of them. In four minutes! That’s about Sirmons having tired legs more than anything.
Last season, GoCoogs wrote about this phenomenon after the LSU game. There were 76 free throws in that game and the refs got both teams into the bonus quickly in each half.
Who was the crew chief that night? Doug Sirmons. It was his first of four-straight nights working a game (Houston to Pittsburgh to Jonesboro, Arkansas to Memphis).
Free Three: Harris, Fabian White, and Jarreau combined to go 21/24 from the line. That’s 88% for the night. Pretty, pretty good. The three combined for 120 made free throws last year in 37 games.
And a freebie – not about FT shooting: The Coogs start 1-0 in the American for the 5th-straight season and the 6th time out of 7 years in the league’s existence.
Also, see our game story and photo gallery from Mario Puente: