11/20 22:18 CST Top-ranked Duke knocks off No. 8 Auburn 78-72 in Maui semis
Top-ranked Duke knocks off No. 8 Auburn 78-72 in Maui semis
By JOHN MARSHALL
AP Basketball Writer
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) --- Duke hit Auburn with a flurry of alley-oops, acrobatic
drives and step-back 3-pointers.
The Tigers, unlike the Blue Devils' first four opponents, fought back, going
right back at the top-ranked Blue Devils.
It still wasn't enough.
Duke withstood its toughest test of the season so far, outlasting No. 8 Auburn
78-72 Tuesday night to reach the Maui Invitational title game.
"Big time game. Both teams played so hard," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
"That was a heck of a win for us. To play this level of game at this time of
the year is amazing for us."
Duke (5-0) came into the game as the tournament favorite and looked like it
would run Auburn out of the gym after racing past San Diego State in the opener.
The Tigers (4-1) clawed back to pull the Blue Devils within reach, yet could
never get a firm grip.
Duke answered every Auburn challenge, earning a chance to play No. 3 Gonzaga or
Arizona for the chance at an unprecedented sixth Maui Invitational title.
Marques Bolden, an upperclassmen leader among all the talented freshmen, keyed
the defensive, blocking seven shots while scoring seven points and grabbing
Zion Williamson provided the wow factor with acrobatic moves to the basket,
finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Jared Harper nearly kept the Tigers in it singlehandedly with deep 3-pointers
in the second half. He had 22 points and Bryce Brown 16 for Auburn.
"We're very disappointed that we weren't able to take advantage of the
opportunity," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "Our great strength is our balance
and I think when we continue to become a little bit more balanced in many ways
we'll continue to become a better team."
The Blue Devils came to Maui yet to be tested, leaving fans wondering what
they'll do next through the first four ooh-and-ahh-inducing routs.
The Blue Devils express kept rolling at the Lahaina Civic Center.
Duke stymied Auburn defensively early, limiting the Tigers to 4-of-20 shooting
while jumping out to a 20-8 lead.
But Tigers would not lay down that easy. Boosted by a large contingent of rowdy
supporters, they held Duke without a field goal for five minutes, got out in
transition and whittle what seemed like an insurmountable lead to six just
Duke tried to run away with it by scoring the second half's first eight points,
Auburn clawed its way back, trimming what was once a 17-point deficit to 61-56.
But every time the Tigers tried to get close, the Blue Devils had an answer
with an alley-oop dunk or a Bolden block.
IOWA STATE 84, ILLINOIS 68
Talen Horton-Tucker had 26 points and 14 rebounds, Michael Jacobson added 23
points and Iowa State ran away from Illinois in the second half for an 84-68
victory to reach the fifth-place game.
Down to eight scholarship players due to injuries and suspensions, Iowa State
(4-1) bounced back from an opening loss to No. 3 Gonzaga with a strong game at
Trent Frazier had 15 points to lead Illinois (1-3), which will face Xavier in
the seventh-place game.
SAN DIEGO STATE 79, XAVIER 74
Jalen McDaniels scored 25 points, Devin Watson added 21 and San Diego State
rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat Xavier 79-74 at the Maui Invitational.
San Diego State (3-1) was blown out by top-ranked Duke in its Maui opener and
fell behind by 19 early against Xavier (2-3). The Aztecs put together two big
runs to go up nine, but Xavier rallied within 64-63 with three minutes left.
The Aztecs pushed the lead back to six and hit 10 of 12 free throws in the
final 47 seconds to complete their third-largest comeback since 1996-97.
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