EditorsNote: updates third graf with Wednesday matchups
Freshmen RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish scored 18 points apiece as top-ranked Duke held off No. 8 Auburn 78-72 in the first semifinal of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday in Lahaina, Hawaii.
While all five Duke starters scored in double figures, it took a few defensive stops for the Blue Devils to fend off Auburn.
Duke (5-0) will face No. 3 Gonzaga on Wednesday in the title game. Auburn (4-1) will take on Arizona in the third-place game.
Zion Williamson scored 13 points and Tre Jones had 10 points to add to the freshman scoring for Duke, while teammate Marques Bolden racked up 11 points and nine rebounds. Reddish drained four 3-point shots on 10 attempts.
Jared Harper’s 22 points led Auburn, while reserve Austin Wiley poured in 17 and Bryce Brown added 16.
Duke built a 17-point lead with less than six minutes to go in the first half, but Auburn came storming back. Brown’s two 3-point baskets late in the first half helped get the Tigers on track.
Brown made a trey at the 7:20 mark in the second half as Auburn closed within 65-59.
Jones, Williamson and Barrett each had two of the next six Duke points, then Jones connected on a pass to Bolden for a transition dunk, and the edge was 73-61.
That was during a stretch when Bolden, a junior center, recorded blocked shots on the defensive end on consecutive Auburn possessions.
Bolden finished with seven of Duke’s 11 blocked shots. It marked one of the most complete games of Bolden’s often-inconsistent college career.
Auburn took a large percentage of its shots from outside the 3-point arc, making 11 of 32 attempts. Harper’s 3-pointer accounted for the game’s final points in the waning seconds. It was his sixth trey of the game.
Auburn’s bench players outscored Duke reserves 24-8.
Duke got off to a strong early start, though a couple of Williamson turnovers might have been reason for concern.
The Blue Devils won the previous three meetings between the programs, though they hadn’t met since Dec. 30, 1981.
—Field Level Media