In the first real test of the season Duke prevailed over the very game Auburn Tigers 78-72. The Blue Devils looked like they’d run away with the game early, building a 17 point lead in the first half only to see a gritty Auburn team cut it to 8 by the games midway point. The second half saw the Blue Devils nearly push the game out of reach but once again the Tigers clawed their way back into the game. Both team slugged back and forth with the Tigers getting the lead down to 5 before Duke once again pushed it back to 12. Both teams traded big shot after big shot until time and foul trouble caught up with the Tigers.
The Tigers were led by guard Jared Harper with 22 points. Harper shot 6-10 from beyond the arc and had 6 assists to only 2 turnovers. Junior Austin Wiley added 17 points off the bench and added 9 rebounds in 19 minutes. Bryce Brown added 16 points for the Tigers as well.
The Blue Devils were paced by freshmen R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish who scored 18 points a piece with Barrett adding 9 rebounds and Reddish 2 steals. The surprise was a coming out party of junior Marques Bolden. Duke does not win the game without the energy, effort and production they got from Bolden. Bolden was everywhere for Duke tonight, scoring 11 points on 4-5 shooting, grabbing 9 rebounds and blocking 7 shots. Bolden was all over the court playing great defense on switches, containing penetration, grabbing loose balls and doing it all while only committing 1 turnover and 2 personal fouls.
Duke had 6 turnovers in the last 3:37 of the game to keep the Tigers within striking distance but were effectively able to space the floor to work and eventually run out the clock.
Duke moves to the finals of the Maui Invitational against the winner of Gonzaga – Arizona. Which will pit the Devils against either the number 3 ranked team in the nation, Gonzaga, or their former player, power forward Chase Jeter at Arizona.