Often is it said that free throws determine the outcome of most basketball games.
If you make them, you win. If you miss them, well, you make things challenging in searching for the win.
On Saturday afternoon in the Humphrey Coliseum, No. 22 Mississippi State held on for the 91-88 win over Auburn despite struggling from the charity stripe.
“We didn’t separate it the way we needed to in the second half because of free-throw shooting,” said Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. “We got to the free-throw line 33 times the second half but only made 19. That let them hang around. We had a bunch of opportunities to stretch that thing out to 13, 14, or 15 points if we just make some free throws.”
Arnett Moultrie, who led MSU in scoring with 21, was 7-of-11 from the line. In the last 31 seconds, he missed four of his six attempts allowing the Tigers to hang around.
“It was frustrating that we just couldn’t put them away,” said Moultrie.
While the Bulldogs were struggling at the line, shooting just 60 percent for the game, the Tigers were taking advantage of their opportunities.
“They got to the foul line probably more than anyone has gotten to the foul line on us this year,” said Stansbury. “That’s a bad stat for us, for an opposing team to get to the free-throw line as many times as they got to the free-throw line.”
The Tigers, who lead only Ole Miss from the foul line by shooting 66 percent, shot 72.2 percent, making 26-of-36 shots from the line.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, entered the game fourth in the SEC with 70.4 percent and missed 14 shots in the second half alone.
“We got the ball around that hole a bunch. We got fouled a bunch and we let them hang around,” said Stansbury. “We missed some free throws. We missed 14 free throws in the second half, that’s a lot of free throws to miss.”