Duke basketball throws nation’s best block parties of late

Duke basketball center Mark Williams (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball center Mark Williams (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

No program blocks more shots than Duke basketball these days.

In Saturday’s 88-73 home victory over NC State Wolfpack (9-9, 2-5 ACC), the now-No. 6 Duke Blue Devils (14-2, 4-1 ACC) tallied 10 blocked shots, including a career-high eight from sophomore Mark Williams without the towering center committing a single foul. His total was the most from any Duke basketball player during a game in more than 15 years.

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Now, it seems Williams’ swatting prowess this season — 55 blocks through 16 outings for the budding 7-footer — has solidified Duke’s title as “Block Party U” in recent seasons.

According to a tweet on Monday from the program’s official account for stats, the Blue Devils have surpassed the Auburn Tigers as the nation’s No. 1 shot-blockers since the start of the 2018-19 campaign. The count stands at 650 for Duke in that span and 646 for Auburn. Next on the list is the Michigan State Spartans at 604.

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Mark Williams leads the 2021-22 Blue Devils in blocks, of course, not to mention the entire ACC. He also paced Duke in this regard last season with 32 rejections across his 23 appearances for a squad that saw its season come to a premature end due to positive COVID-19 tests within the program.

In 2019-20, one-and-done big man Vernon Carey Jr. held the distinction as Duke’s top shot-blocker with 49 across his 31 games. And in 2018-19, three of the school’s frontcourt weapons reached the 50-block mark: Zion Williamson with 59, Marques Bolden with 58, and Javin DeLaurier with 50.

The Blue Devils, riding a two-game win streak, return to action at 9 p.m. Tuesday in a road bout against the unranked Florida State Seminoles (10-5, 4-2 ACC).

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more on the Blue Devils’ frequent block parties plus other Duke basketball news and views.