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Duke's Offense A Good Omen

The Blue Devils are much improved from the field.

Duke Blue Devils guard Andre Dawkins (34) shoots over Gardner Webb Runnin Bulldogs guard Naji Hibbert (11) at Cameron Indoor Stadium
Duke Blue Devils guard Andre Dawkins (34) shoots over Gardner Webb Runnin Bulldogs guard Naji Hibbert (11) at Cameron Indoor Stadium
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Most teams do well when they make at least half of their shots. That's not news. Success is particularly likely if they make more than 50 percent of their field goal attempts in each half of a contest. Duke, for instance, is 27-0 since 2010 when it hits at least 50 percent from the floor shots in both halves.

We've noticed, however, that Duke is a bit more apt in 2013-14 than in the recent past to make at least 50 percent of its shots in at least one period. Through the Blue Devils' Monday win over Gardner-Webb, they've enjoyed at least one half with a 50 percent conversion rate in 9 of 10 games.

Over the past five seasons, they matched that offensive efficiency through 10 games only in 2012. That year they came away with two fewer wins in such circumstances, as 10 of those halves came in five outings - all wins.

Overall the current Duke squad enjoyed a dozen periods out of a possible 20 (60 percent) making half of its shots or better. Against the Runnin' Bulldogs (an interesting mental image, that), the Devils sank 58.8 percent in the second period.

The '14 team failed to convert half its shots in either period only in a win over Alabama in which it hit 43.1 percent overall.

Overall Duke is making 51.7 percent of its shots this year, tops in the ACC.

The last time the Blue Devils sank at least 50 percent of their shots across an entire season was 1999, when they hit at a 51.4 percent clip. No ACC team has shot better since.

The 86.0 points the '14 team averages is best at Duke since 2002, when it produced 88.9 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting from the floor.

Yes, the season is just getting started. Conference play has yet to begin for Duke and most other schools.

And, how well opponents shoot (field goal percentage defense) is a significant factor in determining outcomes. So far this year, only Kansas and Vermont converted better than half their shots in both periods against Duke. The Jayhawks won with 56.1 percent shooting (Duke made 51.7). Vermont made 64.8 percent and lost 91-90. The Devils hit 49.1 percent in that game.

Arizona and Michigan made 50 percent or better for one half. That's four of 10 opponents to far (40 percent) that enjoyed at least an efficient field goal showing from the floor.

Across the entire 2013 season, only three teams hit at least half their shots against Duke in both periods of a contest. Duke lost all three - at N.C. State, at Miami, and at Maryland. Ten other teams shot that well in a half, meaning 13 of 36 opponents (36 percent) made half their attempts in either period against the Devils, a rate not much different than this year's group.

Still, if the current team's strength is to be its offense, it's gotten off to a good start.

Periods In Which Recent Duke Teams Made At Least 50 Percent Of Their Field Goal Attempts
Year 1st 10 (W-L) Season,
Both Halves
One Half
Least A Half
None Overall W-L FG%
2014 12 (7-2) 3-0 4-2 7-2 1-0 8-2 .517
2013 10 (7-0) 6-0 17-1 23-1 7-5 30-6 .472
2012 12 (6-1) 6-0 9-3 15-3 12-4 27-7 .456
2011 11 (9-0) 7-0 19-2 26-2 6-3 32-5 .471
2010 7 (5-0) 5-0 15-0 20-0 15-5 35-5 .441