No. 1 Duke rout San Diego State to open Maui Invitational
By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Basketball Writer
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Zion Williamson poked the ball free with a clear path to the basket, the crowd rising in anticipation before he even reached midcourt.
The voices in the Lahaina Civic Center rising with Duke’s rim-wrecking freshman, Williamson launched through the air, head well above the rim as he threw down a windmill dunk and roars echoed off their ceiling.
Duke’s soaring-and-scoring show hit paradise and it’s showing no sign of slowing down.
The top-ranked Blue Devils breezed through their Maui Invitational opener on Monday, blowing out San Diego State 90-64 to remain undefeated on the Valley Isle.
“They understand being part of something bigger than them, but still being really good,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “The spotlight is bigger, their stuff will show if the spotlight’s on the whole team.”
Duke has been the talk of college basketball since its highly-touted freshmen shot the season out of a canon with a blowout win over then-No. 2 Kentucky. The five-time Maui champion Blue Devils arrived in paradise the favorites and played like it against the Aztecs (2-1).
Duke (4-0) built a 17-point halftime lead despite front-court foul trouble — Williamson played seven first-half minutes — and shot 52 percent, making 10 of 25 from the 3-point arc.
The position-less Blue Devils kept the crowd wondering what would happen next with a series of acrobatic moves and finishes at the rim, pushing the lead and themselves into Tuesday’s semifinals against No. 8 Auburn. Duke is 16-0 all-time in Maui.
“They’re good players, it is plain and simple,” said San Diego State’s Jeremy Hemsley, who finished with 12 points. “They know how to play the game of basketball, they play it at a high level.
Devin Watson had 15 points to lead San Diego State (2-1), which plays Xavier in the second round.
NO. 8 AUBURN 88, XAVIER 77
Auburn had a hard time shaking Xavier. Behind their star guards and a stingy defense in overtime, the eight-ranked Tigers are moving on in Maui.
Bryce Brown scored 26 points, Jared Harper added 25 and No. 8 Auburn shut down Xavier in overtime for an 88-79 victory.
“They’re terrific back court players, you can see the difference that experience makes,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “You just can’t be afraid to fail. You just got to go out there and put it on the line. I thought these guys both did that, they both competed and the difference obviously was their outstanding play.”
The Tigers (4-0) shot poorly from the perimeter early — 3 for 15 from 3-point range and had a hard time shaking the new-look Musketeers (2-2). The Tigers missed missing badly on a shot to win it in regulation, but outscored Xavier 11-2 in overtime.
Auburn scored 31 points off Xavier’s 22 turnovers overall to earn a spot in the semifinals against Duke.
Ryan Welage had 17 points and Paul Scruggs 16 for the Musketeers.
ARIZONA 71, IOWA STATE 66
Arizona needed 30 minutes to get going. Once the Wildcats did, short-handed Iowa State had no real answer.
Justin Coleman scored 18 points and Arizona rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to knock off the Cyclones 71-66.
Arizona (4-0), with its overhauled roster, was ragged well into the second half before playing better at both ends during a 12-2 run that tied it at 56-all with five minutes left. The Wildcats went ahead and stayed there, making eight straight free throws in the final 39 seconds to earn a spot in Tuesday’s semifinals against No. 3 Gonzaga or Illinois.
“We didn’t panic, we hung in there,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
The scrappy Cyclones (3-1) played without point guard Lindell Wigginton and forward Solomon Young due to injuries, and Cam Lard and Zoran Talley because of suspensions.
That left eight scholarship players for the Maui opener against Arizona, but it didn’t slow them early. The Cyclones led by seven at halftime and stretched it to 10 midway through the second half before Arizona rallied.
Marial Shayok led Iowa State with 19 points.
NO. 3 GONZAGA 84, ILLINOIS 78
Gonzaga knew it would have a tough time against Illinois’ frenetic style of play.
It took the Zags some time to figure it out and they still needed some big plays down the stretch, but now they’re off to the Maui Invitational semifinals.
Rui Hachimura scored 23 points, Zach Norvell Jr. added 15 and No. 3 Gonzaga held off Illinois 84-78 to earn a semifinal showdown with Arizona.
Gonzaga (4-0) overcame 22 turnovers by shooting 52 percent.
“They’re a team that brings a lot of adversity,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “When you are strong with it (the ball) and shoot a high percent, that’s what ends up giving it to you.”
Gonzaga went up 13 in the second half and withstood Illinois’ 10-0 run to lead nine with 97 seconds left.
The Illini weren’t done, though.
Alan Griffin hit a 3-pointer and Trent Frazier scored on a four-point play to pull the Illini within 80-78.
Illinois forced Gonzaga into a difficult shot and got the ball back with 30 seconds left, but Frazier air-balled a long 3-pointer.
Gonzaga’s Jeremy Jones hit two free throws to send the Zags into Tuesday’s semifinals.
Frazier scored 27 of his 29 points in the second half and Giorgi Bezhanishvili added 17 for Illinois.
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