Survive and advance may be the recurring them in March, but the Maui Invitational gives you that Madness feel in November…Packed house, eager fans, eight teams (three of which are ranked in the top 10) competing in a tournament style competition with beautiful Maui as the backdrop.
The Blue Devils opened their 6th trip to Maui against San Diego State and although it wasn’t the best game for the Blue Devils, they took the first step toward their championship goals, defeating the Aztecs 90-64.
“In the first half,” Coach K said after the game, “just adjusting to the environment that they’re playing in. It was really hot in there and for both teams, but it’s tough to simulate that. So I thought the end of half was crucial. We got a perfect two for one. We had six points and then we started the second half poorly, then all of a sudden we rebounded and our transition game got going and we kind of exploded. But it was a good win for us, we beat a good team, and on to the second game.”
On a afternoon when star forward Zion Williamson didn’t get going until the 2nd half, it was point guard Tre Jones, who was more aggressive offensively – scoring a career high 14 points on 6 for 7 shooting.
“I was just reading the defense. They were helping a lot off of me, trying to plug gaps on RJ and Cam and Zion’s drives and that left open lanes for me to either attack or cut, and my teammates did a great job of finding me so I was an I believe to make those plays.”
With scouts from nearly every NBA team on hand, Duke’s four phenomenal freshmen didn’t disappoint – scoring 63 points combined.
Next up for the Blue Devils will be the eighth ranked Auburn Tigers who defeated Xavier in OT, 88-79.
- Duke is not 17-0 all-time in games played in the Maui Invitational.
- RJ Barrett scored a game-high 20 points and has reached the 20-point mark in each of his first four games as a freshman.
- Five steals by Zion Williamson are the most for a Duke player this season and tied for the most for Duke in a Maui Invitational.
- Seven different Blue Devils recorded at least 4 rebounds as Duke out-rebounded San Diego State 43-30.