OMAHA, Neb. — After yet another blow of the whistle, IU Assistant Coach Tim Buckley was furious. He threw himself into his chair and tossed his arms in the air.
“They’ve shot 50 free throws!” he yelled to nobody in particular.
His number was a little high — Wichita State took 34 free throws Friday afternoon — but the mistake was admissible, given the situation.
IU’s second-round NCAA Tournament game was dragged to a crawl by foul-heavy officiating.
The two teams combined to commit 43 fouls. On the season, games in which IU played averaged 36.1 combined fouls.
The foul-prone nature of the game stretched it to almost 2 1/2 hours long. Throughout that time, IU Coach Tom Crean grew more and more frustrated with the officiating and spent more time than usual communicating with referees.
After a call late in the game — one that went IU’s way — Crean turned to a tournament director at the scorer’s table.
“That’s inconsistent,” he said. “Inconsistent.”
In the end, the Hoosiers attempted 20 free throws to the Shockers’ 34. Each team converted those shots at an 85-percent rate, giving Wichita State a distinct advantage on the line.
That advantage came not from one-sided officiating, but from the teams’ opposite offensive ?approaches.
While Wichita State focuses on getting its talented backcourt to the rim, using cutting action and an abundance of ball screens to free ballhandlers, IU is more perimeter-oriented. The Hoosiers excel behind the 3-point line, picking up points in bunches when things are going well.
The drawback? Three-point shooters don’t draw a lot of fouls.
Just 17.8 percent of the Hoosiers’ points this season came from the free throw line, a mark ranking No. 315 out of 351 teams.
Junior guard Nick Zeisloft, who rarely shoots from inside the 3-point line, attempted just 17 free throws this season.
He said he was fine with the way the game was ?officiated.
“The referees did a great job tonight,” Zeisloft said. “They called a great game. It’s just part of the game, you’ve just got to fight through contact. It was a physical game.”