After a solid opening win over San Diego State, the Blue Devils will look to continue their march to a sixth Maui Invitational title against No. 8 Auburn. The Blue Zone analyzes a key player from each side who has the potential to make or break the matchup for his respective team:

Duke: Guard Tre Jones

After an offensive outburst in the Blue Devils win over the Aztecs, Jones will need to bring that same aggressiveness on both sides of the floor against Auburn. The freshman point guard had 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting and impressed by getting to the rim and finishing through contact as well as knocking down his two attempts from deep. 

With the defensive focus of opponents primarily directed towards on R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and Jones need to be prepared to score if their fellow freshmen go cold. San Diego State, using defensive physicality and length, was able to shut down Williamson, offering a blueprint for the Tigers to limit the freshman highlight-reel. Auburn often chooses to press on defense and forced 22 turnovers against Xavier, necessitating that Jones continues to make smart decision with the ball. If Jones can continue to convert on timely shots, and improves his free-throw shooting – he was 0-for-3 Monday – there will be little Auburn can do to slow down the Duke offense.

On the defensive side, the floor general will be tasked with locking down guard Jared Harper. The junior averaged 13.2 points-per-game last season and had 25 points and 8 assists in the win over Xavier. The Tigers, led by the sensational guard duo of Bryce Brown and Harper, torched the Musketeers on pick-and-rolls, slips and fades, and with Jones serving as the de-facto defensive leader on the floor at times, he will need to direct the young squad through the switches.

Auburn: Chuma Okeke

Okeke appears to be the best candidate to guard Williamson – at least to start the game. The sophomore forward has a 7-foot wingspan to bother the freshman phenom and an offensive game to get Williamson into foul trouble—the few weaknesses that have been exposed thus far.

The 6-foot-8 Atlanta native is averaging 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from deep. With the ability to crash the boards and step outside, he will be a tough defensive assignment for any of the Blue Devils, who have been struggling with tremendous foul trouble throughout the season. 

Defensively, Okeke and the other forwards, who will be tasked to chase around Duke’s positionless wings, must work to stay out of foul trouble. With Danjel Purifoy still out, the Tigers’ frontcourt depth is relatively thin. Against the Musketeers – who do not boast anywhere as near as much athletic ability and versatility – Auburn committed 23 fouls, with forwards Anfernee McLemore and Austin Wiley fouling out and Okeke picking up four of his own. If the Tigers are unable to play their high-pressure defense that has generated 20 turnovers per game, the Blue Devils will have no problem racking up the score.