The top-ranked Duke Blue Devils triumph 90-64 in opening of Maui Invitational.
If San Diego State wanted to beat the Duke Blue Devils, they knew it was going to have to be an ugly win. They tried to make it as ugly as possible in the first half, but the Blue Devils talent and depth rose to the top.
In order to win ugly, the Aztecs needed to get Duke into foul trouble and it worked. During the first half, Coach K had to roll out Antonio Vrankovic onto the floor.
Duke might not have been at their full 40-minute sharpest on Monday. But when the Blue Devils were rolling, they were spectacular. Simply put, there just isn’t a team in the nation better equipped to dole out highlight-reel plays like the ones that Duke’s freshmen put up.
Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier, and Vrankovic had to sit in the first half because of foul trouble. It did not affect the Blue Devils due to the talent of R.J. Barrett.
Barrett finished the game with 20 points, four rebounds, and five assists. He also had foul trouble late in the game. Finishing with four fouls.
All four of the freshman were fantastic. Tre Jones broke out of his mini shooting slump with 14 points on six of seven shooting. He could only finish with two assists on the day.
Reddish had 16 points, two rebounds and assists, and a steal. Williamson put on a show in the second half, ending with 13 points, six rebounds, one assist, and five steals.
Jack White was sensational off the bench with 12 points and eight rebounds.
The Duke Blue Devils advance to play the No. 8 Auburn Tigers who needed to overtime to defeat the Xavier Musketeers prior to the Blue Devils and Aztecs tipping off.
“We played well,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. He’s used some version of that phrase in nearly every post game press conference so far this season.
“We do have explosive ability,” Krzyzewski acknowledged. “If we can get a steal or get a defensive rebound, with our ball-handlers, they’re very good in transition. They almost always make the right play. I’m not sure how many teams have that many ball-handlers [on the court at the same time]. So I hope we can get [transition opportunities] every game, because then it’s over. It’s over, you know? Our team, if they do that, has the ability to knock a team out.”
Coach K’s team is special, and we were reminded of that Monday.
Barrett, Williamson, Reddish and Jones combined for 63 points while San Diego State’s entire team only scored 64. The Blue Devils led by 35 before Krzyzewski emptied the bench.
The top-ranked Blue Devils will now play in Tuesday’s first semi final that is scheduled to tip at 8 p.m ET. Auburn are not likely to go quietly considering the Tigers are ranked eighth in the AP poll. They are also led by six of the top eight scorers, who were on last season’s squad that won an SEC regular-season title.