Under coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke Blue Devils — especially in recent memory — are known for being a well-rounded offense that focuses on hitting open outside jumpers that rip the hearts out of opponents.
That scheme has not worked nearly as well recently, and considering this version of Duke is still built on the three-point jumper falling, the team’s fans have to be worried that there could be an early exit during the NCAA tournament.
Duke went five minutes without a field goal in its loss to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Wednesday, and a lot of that defeat can be blamed on a 6-of-27 (22.2. percent) shooting night from behind the arc. Duke was up by as many as seven points with only five minutes remaining, but a Deacon 17-point run put the game away. Duke could not hit any open shots and Wake pulled off the upset.
Just looking at that loss, it may seem like a one-game problem, but Duke has struggled several times recently in hitting from the outside. Duke escaped with a victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies but knocked in only 10-of-33 (30.3 percent) three-pointers. In the game before against the Syracuse Orange, the Devils hit 7-of-21 (33.3 percent) on threes. The loss against North Carolina is best remembered as the game where the Tar Heels switched to a 1-3-1 zone and completely fooled Duke. The three-ball was not splashing the nets in that game as Duke finished shooting 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) against its biggest rival.
Duke has one more game in the regular season remaining when it takes on North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday. Obviously this is a big game based purely on the rivalry, but it is even more important to Duke because the outside shot needs to be found soon. If this trend continues, not only will Duke fall quickly in the ACC tournament, but the Devils could be a one-weekend team in the dance.
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