LAHAINA, Hawaii – 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, 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 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 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 for an unprecedented sixth Maui Invitational title.
Marques Bolden keyed Duke’s defense, blocking seven shots while scoring seven points and grabbing nine rebounds. Zion Williamson provided acrobatic moves to the basket, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Jared Harper had 22 points and Bryce Brown 16 for Auburn.
Iowa State 84, Illinois 68: Talen Horton-Tucker had 26 points and 14 rebounds, Michael Jacobson added 23 points and the Cyclones ran away from the Fighting Illini in the second half.
Down to eight scholarship players because of injuries and suspensions, Iowa State bounced back from an opening loss to Arizona with a strong game at both ends.
The Cyclones used their pressure defense to keep it close in the first half, then went on an 18-2 run early in the second to build a nine-point lead. Iowa State kept boosting the lead from there, making 16 of 28 shots to earn a spot in Wednesday’s fifth-place game against San Diego State.
Trent Frazier had 15 points to lead Illinois.
San Diego State 79, Xavier 74: Jalen McDaniels scored 25 points, Devin Watson added 21 and the Aztecs topped the Musketeers to earn a spot in the Maui Invitational fifth-place game.
San Diego State was blown out by top-ranked Duke in its Maui opener and fell behind by 19 early against Xavier. The Aztecs answered with a 19-3 run to pull within three by halftime and had an early 16-2 run in the second half to go up 58-49.
Xavier took No. 8 Auburn to overtime in its Maui opener and rallied against San Diego State, pulling within 64-63 with 3 minutes left.
The Aztecs pushed the lead back to six and hit 10 of 12 free throws in the final 47 seconds.
Quentin Goodin led Xavier with 20 points.
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