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One missed shot costs Sean Miller in final of free throw contest

Second place is still worthy of applause. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Well, there’s always next year for the Arizona Wildcats basketball coach Sean Miller.

Miller lost to Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg in the championship round of the “Shots from the Heart” free throw shooting contest among college head coaches. Miller made 24 of 25 attempts, but it wasn’t enough.

Hoiberg, through six rounds of competition, remarkably made each of his 150 free throw attempts, so he will be the preseason favorite next season. There will be an interesting newcomer to watch: Miller’s brother, Archie, the new head coach at Dayton.

Archie, who had been an assistant at Arizona for the past two years, was an accomplished free throw shooter at North Carolina State — just like Sean was at Pitt.

I asked Sean last week at a news conference if we can expect a Miller-Miller final next year.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” Sean said.

And who’s the better free throw shooter?

“That would be tough,” Sean said, before adding with a smile, “That’s another reason he should have stayed.”

Here is the press release from ArizonaWildcats.com:

TUCSON, Ariz. – One shot can make a difference.

And it was one shot that separated the combatants in the “Shots from the Heart” free throw shooting contest, as Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg defeated Arizona’s Sean Miller, 31-30, in the championship match. Final results were announced Tuesday.

Hoiberg made 25-of-25 free throws to post a perfect score of 31 to down Miller, who made 24-of-25 free throws and scored a total of 30 points to win the inaugural “Shots from the Heart” tournament.

Miller missed his ninth attempt of 25 shots in the round and said, “I just lost it. I’m out,” as soon as the shot rimmed out. In case Hoiberg had missed in his 25 shots, Miller kept shooting (as per the tiebreaker) and made 66 consecutive shots before missing again. For fun, he ended up shooting 100 shots in the shooting session and made 94.

“As I’ve said throughout this tournament, my slogan is `Don’t Miss’ and today I did,” said Miller. “One shot really matters, even in an event like this. You have to give Fred a ton of credit in winning this thing. He never missed a shot. I’ll regroup and focus on coming back strong next year.”

In six rounds of action, Miller made 139-of-150 shots (.927) and tallied 177 of a possible 186 total points. His score improved in each of the first three rounds, and Miller recorded perfect scores in rounds four and five. By comparison, Hoiberg did not miss a shot in the event, connecting on a spotless 150-of-150 attempts.

“Shots from the Heart” is a season-long free throw contest that features 64 participating head coaches bracketed in a tournament-style format. Beginning in November and continuing once monthly through the NCAA Final Four in Houston, coaches will shoot 25 free throws – with varying point values – on their campuses while a departmental staff member will tally and report the results. The coach with the most points scored in each match-up will advance to the next round.

In an effort to avoid ties, the following scoring system will be used: shots 1-20 are worth 1 point each, shots 21-24 are worth two points each, and shot 25 is worth 3 points.

The event is administered by collegeinsider.com in conjunction with Close The Gap, an educational initiative designed to promote awareness about cardiovascular risk factors. Any proceeds from the event will benefit the American Heart Association. For additional tournament information, go to www.collegeinsider.com/shots. There is a tournament for assistant coaches as well.

Miller, who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1992, finished his career as one of the top 10 free throw shooters in NCAA history. He connected on 317-of-358 (.885) free throw attempts for his career, and he still holds the Pitt record for career free throw percentage. Additionally, Miller is the only player in Pitt history to shoot better than 90 percent from the line in a single season, and he accomplished that feat twice.

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