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ACC Teams That Make The Most Of Trips To The Foul Line

Free throws are a great way to make up ground offensively - if you can hit the shots, that is.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Duke
Nov 30, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Tyrese Proctor(5) shoots a free-throw during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 81-72.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

So far, only two ACC teams have attempted at least 10 free throws in a game this season and made all of them.

First was Virginia Tech in a mid-November win at home against William and Mary, when the Hokies were 12-12 at the line and won, 94-77. Impeccable as it was, that level of perfection only vaguely resembled the performance achieved two months later by the Miami Heat, who set an NBA record by making all 40 foul shots they tried against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The previous NBA record was 39-39 by the Utah Jazz in 1982.

The comparably excellent ACC mark for free throw perfection was set in mid-January 2005 by Wake Forest against North Carolina, as the homestanding Demon Deacons converted all 32 shots they launched from the line. Skip Prosser’s Deacs narrowly missed the NCAA single-game men’s record of 34 straight, set by UC Irvine against Pacific in 1981 and matched by Samford against the University of Central Florida in December 1990.

Both Prosser’s Deacs and newly minted UNC coach Roy Williams’ squad boasted 14-1 records for their ’05 meeting at Joel Coliseum. The Heels were ranked third nationally, Wake fourth. Hundreds of fans camped out awaiting the game. Each team had three ACC wins without a loss, and there was talk the Carolina unit led by Sean May, Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants was so good it might march through the league with an unblemished record.

As it was UNC wound up with four losses overall against 33 wins. The Tar Heels finished atop the ACC standings at 14-2, lost to Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament semis in Washington, D.C., and rallied to win the 2005 NCAA championship. Duke topped the Yellow Jackets to win the ACC Tournament title.

But at the Joel the Heels lost 95-82 to a Wake squad spearheaded at the line by Chris Paul (9 for 9), Vytas Danilius (6-6) and Taron Downey (5-5), supported by Eric Williams and Justin Gray. Prosser reported his group put in extra work on foul shots in the days prior to the big game because they were “wallowing within the dregs of free throw shooting in our conference.”

Nearly two decades later, Virginia Tech, middle-of-the-pack foul shooters, made that modest run in November 2022 at the ACC team record, cashing in at the line 12 times in 12 tries against William & Mary.

In the second, NC State likewise was 12-12 on free throws at the Smith Center on Jan. 21 -– and lost decisively. UNC guard RJ Davis single-handedly outshot the Wolfpack, making 14 of 14 foul shots, most line conversions by an individual in the ACC this season and tied with Cole Anthony for the most ever without a miss at the Smith Center by a Carolina player.

The Tar Heels of Davis (coach Hubert and guard RJ) made 36 of 39 free throws (.923), a school record for highest free throw percentage in a game with at least 30 attempts. Add a subsequent outing at Syracuse, and in two games UNC opponents lost twice despite hitting a combined .933 at the foul line on 14 of 15 tries compared to 62 free throw attempts by the Heels.

ACC Teams Most Efficient Cashing In At Foul Line During 2023 Game
(Minimum 10 Attempts, Through Games Of Jan. 24)
Team % FT-FTA School W/L Opponent Site
1.000 12-12 NC State L North Carolina A
1.000 12-12 Virginia Tech W Wm&Mary H
.960 23-25 Clemson W Wake H
.952 20-21 Syracuse W Georgetown H
.950 19-20 Louisville W W. Kentucky H
.933 14-15 BC W Wyoming N
.933 14-15 FSU L Florida H
.933 14-15 Notre Dame W Youngstown St H
.933 14-15 Pitt W Sacred Heart H
.929 13-14 Clemson L Wake Forest A
.929 36-39 North Carolina W NC State H
.923 12-13 Clemson W Georgia Tech A
.923 12-13 Duke W Md-E. Shore H