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Beyond the arc: Duke breezes past the Aztecs in Maui opener

<p>Zion Williamson was "contained" by the Aztecs Monday afternoon with 13 points and six rebounds.</p>

Zion Williamson was "contained" by the Aztecs Monday afternoon with 13 points and six rebounds.

The Blue Devils came into Hawaii an undefeated 15-0 in the Maui Invitational, having won the tournament each of the five times they have participated dating back to 1992. Duke kept that winning streak alive Monday, dismantling San Diego State 90-64 in the first-round. The Blue Zone gives three key takeaways and stats and looks forward for the Blue Devils: 

Three key takeaways: 

1. Tre can score 

Over the season’s first three games, point guard Tre Jones took a backseat scoring-wise. The ESPN No. 17 overall recruit totaled just 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting as Duke steamrolled past Kentucky, Army and Eastern Michigan. But the Apple Valley, Minn. native broke out for a season-high 14 points against San Diego State Monday, sinking six of his seven field goal attempts. The scoring outburst led to a season-low two assists for the freshman, but that’s a reasonable price to pay for Jones to prove he has the ability to get the ball in the basket.

2. Zion is human

After looking unstoppable to begin the year, Zion Williamson finally looked mortal in Maui. The freshman forward managed just five points in the first-half and finished the contest with 13 points, six rebounds, one assist and one block—all season-lows. Williamson also missed six of his 11 shot attempts after missing only seven of his 39 to start the season. The Spartanburg, S.C. native’s struggles can largely be attributed to the Aztecs defensive game-plan of double-teaming Williamson whenever he got the ball in addition to foul trouble that limited him to only 18 total minutes.

3. Foul trouble continues

Williamson wasn’t the only Blue Devil who struggled with foul trouble, though. Duke had four fouls in the first five minutes of the contest and finished the night with 25 after totaling only 19 over its previous two matchups. Furthermore, junior forward Javin DeLaurier—one of Duke’s two captains and defensive leaders—fouled out in only 11 minutes of play. 

Three key stats:

1. 5 out of Duke’s first 6 field goals were threes

The Blue Devils came out firing, with 15 of their first 17 points coming from downtown. That stretch led to a 17-6 advantage that Duke would never relinquish. After starting the contest 5-of-6 from three, however, the Blue Devils would go on to make just two of their next nine attempts from beyond the arc, showing how streaky this team can be shooting the basketball.

2. 15 turnovers for the Blue Devils

Duke totaled 15 turnovers Monday, a season-high, while only forcing San Diego State into 13 turnovers of its own. That marks the second time this season that the Blue Devils turned the ball over more times than their opponent.

3. 64.7 percent from the free-throw line

The Blue Devils had a tough time at the charity stripe in their Maui opener, making just 22 of their 34 attempts for a 64.7 conversion percentage. That mark actually increases their overall season percentage, though, as Duke entered the contest having made only 62.1 percent of its free throws. This is a serious concern that Coach K and company will need to fix before the Blue Devils’ games become closer and making those crunch-time free-throws becomes a necessity.

Looking forward:

Right before the Blue Devils dispatched San Diego State, No. 8 Auburn was able to squeak past Xavier in overtime for an 88-79 win. Meanwhile, Arizona defeated Iowa State 71-66 and No. 3 Gonzaga pulled out an 84-78 victory over Illinois in their own first-round matchups. Duke is now set to take on the Tigers in the Maui Invitational semi-finals Tuesday at 8 p.m. If they is able to come out with the win, the Blue Devils will play the winner of the game between Arizona and Gonzaga Wednesday at 5 p.m. for the tournament championship. 



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