We’re not going to say that we told you so. But we told you so.
As Austin Montgomery predicted earlier today, No. 3 Gonzaga beat No. 1 Duke 89-87 in the Maui Invitational Championship game. Although the Bulldogs sprang out early, the Blue Devils lived up to the hype by coming back in the second half to nearly force overtime.
Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura (20 pts, 7 rebs) shone the brightest of all potential NBA Draft picks in this game. His key block, rebound and were in the final few possessions won’t make the box score, but the junior really saved the game for the Zags. Same goes for San Jose State transfer Brandon Clarke, whose sixth block of the night saved the game for the Zags.
GONZAGA gets the win with superb defense against Duke. pic.twitter.com/3Cs3MhX3mU— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 22, 2018
Gonzaga’s defense stole the show. The Bulldogs managed 10 blocks and forced 10 turnovers against Duke’s plethora of stretch forwards. Zion Williamson, who is rumored to be a House of Highlights version of Corey Maggette, had to work for his game-leading 22 points. The tandem of Williamson and R.J. Barrett finished 17-for-42 on the night for their worst offensive performance of the year.
Zion Williamson now missing point-blank-range dunks.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) November 21, 2018
Someone put the hex on Duke. pic.twitter.com/RE6gh7gqsC
Smart move to cut the video off before he got blocked on the other end https://t.co/meBL2HZZ12— Chris Schutte (@ChrisSchutte3) November 21, 2018
For a while, it looked like Gonzaga was going to coast to an easy win. Zach Norvell hit some nifty, acrobatic layups, the Bulldogs connected on 6 of their 10 threes in the first half, Rui and Norvell including a pair from Zach Norvell, and carried a 47-39 lead into halftime.
But the Duke team finally lived up to hype in the second half, as the Blue Devils put the clamps down on Gonzaga’s offense, got out in transition and finally made a few dunks so social media interns had some work to do. Freshman Tre Jones finally got the best of Perkins by sinking a few key jumpers in the paint, which cut Gonzaga’s lead to one with two minutes to go.
Does it matter that Duke came back? Yes. Gonzaga needs to tighten up its free throw shooting (the Bulldogs missed their last four) and play cleaner down the stretch so this doesn’t happen again. But a win is still a win. It’s safe to say there will be someone new atop both The Other Top 25 Poll and the AP Poll next week.