NC State ranks ninth in the ACC in free-throw percentage, going 201 for 310 for 64.8 percent.
NCSU is also 10th in the conference for free-throw attempts per game (19.4), just ahead of Boston College (19.1). NC State plays at Florida State tonight at 7 p.m., and the Seminoles are 10th in the ACC in free-throw percentage (63.7), but are attempting 21.9 free throws per game.
NC State coach Sidney Lowe has a goal in mind for his team if they want to reach the point where its free-throw shooting can help win games in the final minutes.
"When you talk about this level of play, and in order to win to, you have to shoot in the 70s somewhere, mid-to-high 70s," Lowe said. "If you can shoot in the high 70s, you are going to really give yourself a chance to win a lot of games. And 70s is not that outstanding."
The Wolfpack has just four players that are shooting above 64.5 percent on the season - sophomore point guard Julius Mays (83.8), freshman center Jordan Vandenberg (83.3), freshman small forward Scott Wood (80.0) and senior power forward Dennis Horner (76.9). Of the four, only Horner and Mays have shot more than 11 attempts this season.
Lowe said you might not be able to take a 60 percent shooter and make him into an 80-plus performer, but hard work will help the players improve. Most players who are good free-throw shooters in high school, translate that skill to college.
"Coaches look at players, guys who can't make free throws, some of those guys don't get scholarships to big schools," Lowe said. "You do have to recruit guys that make free throws, especially guys that have the ball in their hands.
"If you put the time in, you should be able to improve somewhat. You might not become a great free-throw shooter, but you certainly should get that average up."
NC State have shot below 70 percent in 11 out of 15 games, including eight below 62 percent. The Pack shot 40 percent (6 of 15) against Winthrop on Dec. 29, and 44.4 percent (4 of 9) against Georgia Southern on Dec. 12.
Struggles from the line helped contribute to narrow losses to Florida on Jan. 3, and Virginia on Jan. 9. The Wolfpack shot 10 of 19 in the 62-61 overtime loss to the Gators, and 16 of 26 in the 70-62 defeat to the Cavaliers.
Conversely, NC State has shown its capable of making free throws, going 11 of 12 for 91.7 percent in the win over Holy Cross on Jan. 6, and also 17 of 22 for 77.3 in a victory at North Carolina Greensboro Dec. 31.
"You have to take in consideration the crowd, and you have to take in consideration, is that guy nervous?" Lowe said. "A lot of guys aren't used to stepping up there and making free throws. We've seen that happen over the years. They can make them all day in practice, but get in the game and are a little nervous."
Florida State preview
NC State (11-5, 0-2 ACC) at Florida State (13-3, 1-1 ACC)
Game time: Today, Jan. 12, 7 p.m. - Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Fla.
Television: Fox Sports Net
PG - 10 Javi Gonzalez (5-11, Jr., 10.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.3 spg)
SG - 21 C.J. Williams (6-5, Soph., 5.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.9 apg)
SF - 15 Scott Wood (6-7, Fr., 7.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg)
PF - 31 Dennis Horner (6-9, Sr., 13.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.3 bpg)
C - 23 Tracy Smith (6-8, Jr., 17.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.1 bpg)
PG - 22 Derwin Kitchen (6-4, Jr., 8.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.1 spg)
SG - 4 Deividas Dulkys (6-5, Soph., 10.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.1 spg)
SF - 31 Chris Singleton (6-9, Soph., 10.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.2 spg, 1.4 bpg)
PF - 42 Ryan Reid (6-8, Sr., 6.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.1 apg)
C - 32 Solomon Alabi (7-1, Soph., 12.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.8 bpg)
Scouting Florida State
Location: Tallahassee, Fla.
2008-09 record: 25-10 overall, 10-6 ACC
2009 postseason: Lost 61-59 to Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
Coach: Leonard Hamilton, eighth year at Florida State (144-98), and 23rd year overall (344-308)
The all-time series with NC State: NC State leads 25-18
Last meeting: Florida State won 78-65 on Jan. 13, 2009, at the RBC Center in Raleigh
Florida State: The Seminoles posted wins over Alabama and Marquette in the Old Spice Classic at Disney World, but lost 77-64 to Ohio State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. FSU opened up ACC play with a 66-59 overtime victory at Georgia Tech on Dec. 20 … Small forward Singleton ranks in the top 16 in the ACC in four different statistical categories - first in steals (2.2 spg), fifth in blocked shots (1.4 bpg), tied for seventh in defensive rebounds (5.6 drpg) and 11th in rebounding (7.5 rpg) … Alabi is second in the ACC with 45 blocks, two behind UNC's Ed Davis … Dulkys' is second in the ACC, one behind Duke's Jon Scheyer, with 43 three-pointers … The Seminoles are No. 1 in the ACC in field-goal percentage defense (34.6 percent), and second in the conference for scoring defense (58.2 per game).
NC State: All five NC State starters are shooting below 46.3 percent in the two ACC losses. Gonzalez is shooting 36.4 percent, and Horner is at 38.9 percent. Wood is shooting a team-best 46.2 percent, with Smith right behind at 45.8 … The team is shooting 36.8 percent from the field, 28.6 from three-point land and 60.0 at the line in losses to Wake Forest and Virginia … Smith is averaging 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in ACC action, Gonzalez is 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds and Horner is 10 points and three rebounds per game … Vandenberg is averaging a block every 8.6 minutes, and has 13 in 112 minutes for the season. Horner leads the team with 21 blocks in 475 minutes, and Smith has 17 in 470. Smith tallied just 12 blocks his first two years of college, and Horner had 31 in his first three years.