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Mack alters routine at line

Myles Mack, the nation’s third-best free throw shooter, said Tuesday he changed his free throw delivery in the offseason to remain focused on the net.

The Rutgers men’s basketball team’s sophomore point guard leads the Big East in free throw percentage at 93.8 percent — three percentage points higher than teammate Eli Carter, No. 2 in the Big East.

“I just take one dribble and shoot … keep my focus level at the rim more so I won’t have to be thinking about all this other stuff, like dribbling and flipping the ball,” Mack said.

Mack said he came up with the idea, which has improved his free throw percentage 15 points from his freshman season.

“I used to [dribble] three times then I flipped it,” he said. “It took my concentration away, so I just did one dribble and just shoot it.”

Mack has gone 19-for-19 from the free throw line during Big East play, accounting for more than 16 percent of his points in the team’s nine league games. He has scored far more efficiently than Carter, who has improved his free throw percentage by more than 20 points as a sophomore.

Mack is shooting 50.9 percent from the field while taking 8.7 shots per game, nearly four fewer than Carter, who leads the team with 15.2 points per game.

Head coach Mike Rice said the Knights worked on shooting, among other areas, since their last game Jan. 30 at Cincinnati. Rice lamented the team’s scheduling earlier in the Big East season, when the Knights had consistently less time to prepare for games than their opponents.

“I think it’s very important,” Rice said of the practice time. “We’ll know in the next three games, to be honest with you.”

Part of Rice’s assessment likely revolved around ball handling.

The Knights rank 13th in turnover margin and No. 14 in assist-to-turnover ratio in Big East play. Louisville, whom Rutgers hosts tonight, leads the league in steals during Big East play with 10.8, two more than the next best total.

Louisville forced 14 Rutgers turnovers last year, including five from Carter.

“Their guards never seem to be tired,” Rice said. “[Peyton Siva and Russ Smith] are the quickest two maybe in college basketball, the quickest backcourt. And they have one of the best shot blockers in the country in Gorgui Dieng.”

For updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow Tyler Barto on Twitter @TBartoTargum.

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