In their first outing at the Maui Invitation the Duke Blue Devils prevailed 90-64 against the San Diego State Aztecs. In a game that I thought could very well come down to the final few possessions because the the age and defensive ability of this Aztec team. I was wrong and Duke breezed by the Aztecs with not much problem 90 – 64. Duke, despite foul trouble early in this game, was able to build a 17 point halftime lead against SDSU and pushed it to 26 to close the game. Coach Mike Krzyzewski had to shuffle in bench players to save his stars and did so masterfully. Krzyzewski used 5 bench players in the first half and for the blue devils there was no significant drop off in production or defensive intensity. In fact every scholarship player aside from Joey Baker (who did not play and may redshirt) played double figure minutes.
Duke was paced in the game by freshman R.J Barrett who scored 20 points in 26 minutes, the freshman forward also added 5 assists and 3 rebounds while being saddled with foul trouble in the second half. Cam Reddish, while also playing with foul difficulty, added 16 points – going 6 of 10 from the floor and dazzling the Blue Devil faithful with acrobatic layups. Tre Jones did not have, what would be for him, a dazzling floor game but the freshmen guard did go 6-7 from the floor for 14 points, including 2-2 from beyond the arc – his best offensive performance to date. Jones did have 2 assists but also had 2 turnovers.
Zion Williamson also spent much of the game in foul trouble, in fact the freshman forward played just 18 minutes in the game but did manage to score 13 points on 5-11 shooting and grab 5 rebounds. Williamson was mostly kept in check by the Aztec defense as they packed the lane and doubled Williamson effectively on a few occasions. Duke also got a double figure effort from junior Jack White who gobbled up the minutes that the Duke starters had to give up due to foul trouble. White played 29 minutes in the game shot 3-5, including 2-4 from 3 – scoring 12 points, White also grabbed 8 rebounds off the bench.
Duke ended the game shooting 40% from beyond the arc and 52% overall and out-rebounded the Aztecs 43-30. The real difference for the Blue Devils in this game was getting solid production from the bench. Duke was able to mix and match bench players rather effectively and the confidence to play them paid off. The bench was responsible for 23 of the Blue Devil’s 90 points in this game and 24 of the 43 rebounds Duke collected. Duke defensively was able to hold San Diego State to 36% shooting and 29% from beyond the arc.