Top-ranked Duke didn’t use the brute force of highlight-worthy dunks to easily advance in the Maui Invitational on Monday.
The Blue Devils instead relied on steady half-court defense and dead-eye 3-point shooting to post another lopsided win.
Duke made nine of its 10 3-pointers in the first half to open a 17-point lead and roll to a 90-64 win over San Diego State at Lahaina Civic Center.
The Blue Devils (4-0) advance to play No. 8-ranked Auburn (4-0) in the Maui Invitational semifinals at 8 p.m. Tuesday. The Tigers beat Xavier, 88-79, in overtime on Monday.
San Diego State (2-1) did manage to score the game’s first basket and led for five seconds. That brought the total time the Blue Devils have trailed this season to 35 seconds over four games.
R.J. Barrett erased that deficit with a 3-pointer, setting the tone for the first half as Duke shot its way to a 49-32 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils made 9 of their 17 3-point attempts in the first half. They didn’t record their first dunk of the game until fabulous freshman Zion Williamson’s crowd-pleasing, windmill slam on a breakaway with 13:28 to play in the game. By then, the Blue Devils had built a 71-44 lead.
Barrett paced Duke with 20 points, hitting three of six 3-pointers, and had a team-best five assists despite playing only 23 minutes due to his four fouls.
Fellow freshman Cam Reddish scored 16 points, while freshman guard Tre Jones had 14 and Williamson 13 for the Blue Devils.
Junior forward Jack White contributed 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Duke shot 51 percent and made 40 percent (10 of 25) of its 3-point shots. San Diego State shot just 36 percent, including 6 of 21 3-pointers (29 percent) while committing 13 turnovers.
San Diego State’s switching man-to-man defense limited Duke’s ability to find open driving lanes to the basket. The Blue Devils dominated the first half anyway.
Duke shot 50 percent overall, making 52.9 percent of its 3-pointers.
Barrett scored 16 points in the first half but was the only player in double figures for the balanced Blue Devils. Eight of the 10 players who saw action for Duke scored.
Duke made five of its first six 3-point shots, making 6 of 10 shots overall, to open a 19-6 lead with 12:41 left in the half. Barrett and Jack White each contributed two 3-pointers to the early Duke barrage, which included an 11-0 run.
San Diego State slowly chipped away at the lead as Duke naturally failed to keep up that shooting pace. The Blue Devils missed six consecutive shots during one stretch and the Aztecs cut the Duke lead to 29-21.
But Duke found its groove on offense again, producing points on nine of its final 11 possessions of the half. Jones, Barrett and Reddish all sank 3-pointers during the stretch. Reddish’s 3-pointer with three seconds left in the half gave Duke a 17-point lead, its largest of the first half.
San Diego State made 9 of 22 shots (40.9 percent) in the first half while committing seven turnovers.