LAWRENCE (TNS) — Dissatisfied with his free-throw shooting as a freshman, Marcus Garrett went to work on his technique last summer and into the fall.
Tinkering with his form has helped the 6-foot-5 Kansas sophomore from Dallas turn his 49 percent average into a 65.8 mark through 13 games in 2018-19.
“I actually took Devonté’s free-throw routine, with him taking three dribbles. I used to take one,” Garrett said after connecting on 3 of 4 free throws in the second half of KU’s 70-63 victory over Oklahoma on Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Devonté Graham, who is now a rookie with the Charlotte Hornets, connected on 82.7 percent of his free-throw tries his senior season at KU.
“I felt sometimes I was rushing. Now I take three (dribbles) and feel I am more calm,” added Garrett. He is 25 of 38 for the season after making 25 of 51 all last year. He has made 11 of his last 14 free throws over three games including 7 of 8 in a loss at Arizona State.
Garrett was 1 of 3 from the field and missed his only three as the No. 5-ranked Jayhawks (12-1) converted just 4 of 21 threes versus the No. 23 Sooners (11-2), who hit 5 of 22 from beyond the arc.
For the year, Garrett has made 19 of 61 floor shots for 31.1 percent and 4 of 21 threes for 19 percent. A year ago he hit 45.6 percent of his shots (62 of 136) and 26.7 percent of his threes (12 of 45).
“Last year I lost confidence in my shooting. This year, I feel if I’m open I’m going to miss or make. It doesn’t hurt my confidence,” said Garrett, who averages 5.6 points a game. “That’s something I’ve been working on,” he added, returning to the subject of free throws. “I know if I miss shots I can get to the line and make points from there.”
Garrett had five of KU’s 10 assists against one turnover Wednesday in 28 minutes. For the year, he has 33 assists (second best mark on the team) against 11 turnovers.
“I feel my shot has improved, my ballhandling has improved. It’s me being more comfortable on the court,” Garrett said. “I worry about doing little things. We’ve got a lot of players who can score on this team so I try to do little things.”
He’s often been assigned to guard the opponent’s best player. For instance, on Wednesday night, the 6-foot-5, 195-pound Garrett guarded 6-4 senior Christian James, who averages 17.4 points a game on 45.2 percent shooting (30 of 86 from three for 34.9 percent).
Shadowed by Garrett much of the game, James scored 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting. He was 1 of 7 from three. James did grab 12 rebounds in 37 minutes.
“I just try my best to make him make tough shots over me, try to stay down, stay in front of my man,” Garrett said. “It was basically locking in and trying to not let him score with him being able to shoot, drive and pull up. Knowing he likes catching the ball inside the three-point arc, I tried to make him catch it farther out, to make him more uncomfortable.”
Of Garrett, coach Bill Self said: “He has good size. He has long arms physically, but he is also very, very smart. As far as IQ and understanding the game on the defensive side he’s right up there with the best we’ve had. He’s tough and strong, pays attention to scouting report. He does a better job defensively than a majority of college players early in their careers because he does have a great feel defensively.”
KU will next meet Iowa State at 4 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.
Carolina offers Achiuwa
North Carolina has offered a scholarship to Precious Achiuwa, a 6-9 senior forward from Montverde (Fla.) Academy, according to Zagsblog.com. Achiuwa, the No. 9-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2019 according to Rivals.com, is also considering Kansas, St. John’s, Memphis, UCLA, Western Kentucky, UConn, Florida State and others. He has taken unofficial visits to Memphis and Western Kentucky. He’s planning on setting up some visits during coming weeks.
“He wants to watch conference play,” Achiuwa’s AAU coach, Oz Cross told Zagsblog.com. “We want to try to have our visits set in January and in February/March take visits.
McBride scores 58 in game
KU signee Issac McBride, a 6-0 senior point guard from Arkansas Baptist Prep in Little Rock, Ark., scored a school-record 58 points in a recent 88-85 loss to Russellville on Dec. 29. McBride is ranked No. 109 in the recruiting Class of 2019 by Rivals.com
Graham awarded first start
Former KU guard Devonté Graham started his first NBA game on Wednesday night. The Charlotte Hornets rookie backup combo guard scored 10 points and dished two assists in a 122-84 home loss to Dallas. Graham hit 3 of 13 shots. He was 2 of 8 from three, hitting both threes in the first quarter. He opened in place of the injured Jeremy Lamb. For the season, Graham has averaged 4.1 points and 2.1 assists a game in 17 games.