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Late Free Throw Juice Lifts Arizona Men’s Basketball Over Duke

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Caleb Love’s days of haunting Cameron Indoor Stadium are far from done whether it’s his taunting or his shooting.

To hack-a-Shaq Love in the closing seconds of a game that matters and then expect him to miss the free throw line is a bad mistake. Love has averaged 81.2% from the keyhole in his last three seasons. A little throwback: in the last 44 seconds of the 2022 UNC-Duke rivalry game, which resulted in a loss for former Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski in his final game at Cameron Indoor, six of those made shots occurred.

After two seasons and a change of jerseys, Love and the Arizona Wildcats dealt Jon Scheyer his first home defeat as Duke basketball’s head coach.

The Wildcats shut down the Blue Devil attack from the backcourt in the first half, halting them at a 16.7% clip from three-point range. They also held Duke’s sharpshooters Tyrese Proctor and Jeremy Roach to a combined 0/5 ratio from the stripe. This is a team that can shoot well from a distance this year; only four days ago, Duke made 7-17 shots against Dartmouth.

In the first half, the Blue Devils only managed to hold the advantage for three consecutive possessions before the Wildcats answered. Before a Love triple put the teams in the half with the Wildcats’ biggest lead of the game, Arizona made its move at the end of the half, racing to a six-point lead.

The Blue Devils tied the game at 52 and battled with the Wildcats in the final minutes to overcome their deficit in just eight minutes. In the second quarter, seven-foot center Oumar Ballo had his hands full covering Preseason All-American Kyle Filipowski on one end of the court while leading Arizona in shooting (44% on the other).

The game was tied at 69 with 47 seconds remaining, and foul shots took center stage. The sides traded fouls and attempted a total of six free throws; Love made the final one and the score was 76-73 after he made his second consecutive flawless round of free shots.

Ryan Young kicked off the Blue Devil possession with five seconds left, trailing Duke. Heaved the ball past mid-court, Pelle Larsson tipped it right into the palms of…drum roll please… Love. Arizona’s victory was secured with a slam and a bounce to KJ Davis. The score was 78-73.

The Wildcats grabbed 15 offensive boards to Duke’s 8 as they outrebounded the Blue Devils 45-33.

Arizona’s rotations were much more balanced when it came to who was scoring baskets; all five starters were able to score in double figures while the Wildcats still managed to rack up 16 bench points. By contrast, Jeremy Roach and Filipowski both had business with 25 and 17 points, respectively.

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