The Blue Devils came off a win Monday night against the San Diego State Aztecs looking to punch their ticket into the Maui Invitational championship on Tuesday against Auburn. They did just that, beating the Tigers 78-72 in the Blue Devils’ closest contest this season. The Blue Zone breaks down three key takeaways, three key stats and looks forward for the Duke squad:

Three key takeaways:

1.  The brilliance of Marques Bolden

Last night, Blue Devil fans witnessed the brilliant play that Marques Bolden is capable of when he stays out of foul trouble. Simply put, this was one of the best games that Bolden has ever played at Duke. With 11 points, 9 rebounds, and a game-high 7 blocks, the junior made his presence felt consistently on both ends of the court. The Desoto, Texas native was a key factor in shutting down the shifty Tiger guards as well as contributing on the offensive end, and if he continues this type of production, the Blue Devils will cement their status as the most formidable lineup in college hoops.

2. Foul Trouble

It seems as if this Duke team will consistently have a starter needing a substitution in the first half due to foul trouble. In this contest, it was freshman Cam Reddish who picked up three fouls in the first period of play. And while the rest of the Blue Devil squad managed to stave off the foul issues that have plagued Duke thus far, consistently having one or more starters on the bench in the first half will eventually come back to bite the No. 1 team in the nation. Against Gonzaga, the Blue Devils will need to stay disciplined in order to claim the Maui Invitational championship.

3. Balanced Scoring

Tuesday night’s tilt showed the world yet again that having four ball-dominant players in the starting lineup can and will work to full effect. The Blue Devils spread the scoring around against the Tigers, with all five starters in double digits. No player dropped over 20, but the ball distribution shown will be key moving forward. We have seen that the trio of Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, and R.J. Barrett are not always hot at the same time, and so the offense being able to run through anyone on the floor is promising.

Three Key Stats:

1.  Zero first-half free throws for Auburn

The Blue Devils’ ability to keep teams off of the charity stripe will be instrumental moving forward, and this was a step in the right direction. Duke’s staunch paint defense continued while managing to not commit a single shooting foul in the first twenty minutes of play, and the six-point margin of victory for the Blue Devils could very well be because of this fact.

2.  28 percent from three for Duke

The Blue Devils shot a mediocre 28 percent from beyond the arc against Auburn, making seven out of their 25 attempts. This barely sufficed for a six-point victory last night, and will need to improve if Duke hopes to take down Gonzaga tonight. More consistent shooting will need to come namely from R.J. Barrett, who took eight shots from three-point range and only converted on two of them. Cam Reddish drained four of his ten for a more respectable 40 percent mark, but these two will need to both step up come 5 p.m. this evening.

3.   13 Duke turnovers

Duke continued their struggle to keep the ball on Tuesday night, turning it over to the opposition 13 times throughout the game. The Blue Devils will need to cut down on this number as the season progresses, knowing that they were only a few possessions away from being upset  An improvement will be needed in this category to take down No. 3 ranked Gonzaga, again namely from R.J. Barrett, who turned the ball over a team high four times.

It is not all bad news on this front, however, as point guard Tre Jones only gave the ball away once while taking on a good portion of the ball handling as usual.

Looking Forward

A few hours after Duke posted their 78-72 victory, Gonzaga took care of Arizona by a final score of 91-74. Despite being unranked, the Arizona Wildcats are known as a superb defensive team— one which the Bulldogs were able to score at will against. The game is set to tip off at 5 p.m. tonight against these high-scoring Bulldogs, and it has all the promises of a heavyweight matchup. Duke is likely looking at their toughest test outside of Virginia all season, and to win this game would show the world that Duke is a clear and present threat to cut down the nets come March.