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Free Throws Could Become A Problem For Duke As The Season Goes On

Although it was a positive on Thursday night.

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NCAA Basketball: Eastern Michigan at Duke
Nov 14, 2018; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Marques Bolden (20) shoots a free throw during the second half against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 84-46. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Strong as this year’s Duke squad has been, it has one glaring weakness. And we do mean glaring.

The 2018-19 Blue Devils are hitting 65 percent of their free throws through 10 games, which is not quite two of every three attempts. In only one contest this year – against Gonzaga in their sole loss, of all times – did the Devils make a respectable 70 percent or better at the line.

Surely the Dukies will improve as the season goes on and there’s time to practice, practice, practice (and indeed they did improve markedly in game #11 against Texas Tech: Duke hit 20 of 25 for 80%. Time will tell if that’s an improvement or a blip).

Then again, the worst foul shooters on the squad already have had plenty of practice -- upperclassmen Marques Bolden (.545 on 22 attempts) and Javin DeLaurier (.588 on 17 tries). Worst among the starters is leading scorer R.J. Barrett; the freshman has hit 63.3 percent of his 60 free throws and made just 38.

No one on the current squad is an 80 percent foul shooter. Cam Reddish’s .774 is best of the bunch.

The last time a Duke team was worse from the foul line was the 1962 season, when Mike Krzyzewski was 15.

Only three Duke squads since the advent of the ACC were less accurate free throw shooters than the ’19 unit has been to date. It should be noted that none of the three had losing records, and that the worst group, the 1960 team, won the ACC Tournament.

Worst Foul Shooting by Duke Squad in ACC History
(2018-19 Through 10 Games)
FT% FTA-FTM Year Record
.623 444-712 1960 17-11
.633 443-700 1962 20-5
.642 521-811 1961 22-6
.650 158-243 2019 NA
.654 430-657 1959 13-12
.664 580-873 1955 20-8
.668 426-639 1965 20-5
.670 413-616 1995 13-18

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