George King calls it “making my eights.”
Commonly one of the last players to leave the Colorado Buffaloes’ practice floor after each workout, CU’s sophomore guard routinely challenges himself to knock down at least 8-of-10 3-point shots from varying points along the arc before calling it a day.
The routine helped King emerge as a breakout star at the season’s outset on the heels of a redshirt season and, after weathering some struggles in late December through early January, King once again is connecting at an impressive rate heading into the Buffs’ home date Wednesday night against Stanford.
“That just falls back on me shooting in the gym, shooting my eights. Meaning I’ve got to make eight out of 10 from every spot,” King said. “Obviously, I’m probably not going to shoot 80 percent, but if you train and make yourself shoot 80 percent at practice, maybe you might shoot 40 percent in games.”
King has been even better than 40 percent of late. He scored a team-leading 22 points in Saturday night’s win at Washington State while going 4-for-6 from 3-point range.
King opened Pac-12 Conference play on a low, making only 2-of-9 from long range in CU’s first two league games before rebounding with a 3-for-4 mark against Utah. King endured an 0-for-4 night (2-for-9 overall) against Oregon but has been red hot over the past three games, going 9-for-14 from beyond the arc.
King also went 6-for-6 at the free throw line at WSU and has connected on 16-of-17 during the past five games.
“If he wouldn’t have dove on the floor, they would’ve gotten the ball and who knows. Their momentum would have kept building. I think that jump shot and his hustle sucked the air out of the gym and that’s what you want to do. Especially on the road. That was huge.”
— King, on the late diving-to-the-floor assist from Xavier Talton that set up a King 3-pointer in Saturday night’s win at Washington State. The play sent CU on a 12-2 run that flipped the game’s momentum down the stretch.
It was no accident if it appeared the Buffs’ wing players made a more concerted effort to get to the rim on offense against WSU. It was a wrinkle CU believed it could exploit against the Cougars’ defense.
“When their big guys came out, we wanted to drive them,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “Our perimeter players are good players. We want them to shoot threes. We’ve got good shooters on this team. But we want the 3-pointers to come as a result of paint touches, and that’s either a post touch to one of our bigs or dribble penetration. I thought we had good dribble penetration (Saturday).”
Owning the charity stripe
He doesn’t shoot them frequently enough to qualify for either the national or Pac-12 leaderboards, but senior guard Xavier Talton is connecting on free throws at a scintillating rate. His 4-for-4 mark on Saturday improved his season total to 24-for-25.
“Free throws just come down to putting in the work,” Talton said.
Though WSU connected at a better rate from the floor (.491 to .393), CU’s 22-for-26 effort at the line essentially won the game, as the Cougars struggled to a 16-for-27 mark. CU improved its league-leading free throw percentage to .739.