As good as Duke was, San Diego State still managed to make it a relatively close game for most of the first half until Antonio Vrankovic and Cam Reddish sank a pair of 3s to close out the half. Just like that, the Blue Devils headed into the break with a 17-point lead.
“I think we just had some defensive lapses there, the last three minutes or so in that first half and I think some guys just fell asleep a little bit,” Aztecs guard Jeremy Hemsley said. “We just lost track of guys and we just — simple mistakes, silly mistakes, and I think we just, it was just a little mind lapses and things like that. It wasn’t really anything like the game plan.”
Duke was favorite to win the Invitational and played like it was. The Blue Devils shot 51 percent and were 40 percent from the 3-point range. They also outrebounded the Aztecs 42-30.
“We tried to pack the paint against Duke, tried to play that top nail help side, tried to collapse and make them kick and shoot perimeter threes and to their credit, they made them,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “We watched the Army game, we thought they did a lot of the same things, tried to make it tough for them to penetrate and to their credit they were able to kick the ball out and shot the ball at a really high level from three-point range. When they did that, obviously they were tough to compete with.”
Duke has been unbeatable ever since their highly-touted freshmen shocked then-No. 2 Kentucky with a blow out win. R.J. Barrett scored 20 points for the Blue Devils and Cam Reddish added another 16. Zion Williamson, despite foul troubles, still managed to score in the double digits with 13 points, including one with his signature windmill dunk.
“We talk about Zion and the windmill dunk, but, to me, his lateral movement and the steals and his hands are more, are bigger than that,” Duke’s coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I mean that’s a bang that he had five steals today, you know, and when he gets his hands on the ball he makes plays”
Coming into the game Monday, Williams was averaging 25.3 points and shooting at 82.1 percent.
Devin Watson led the Aztecs with 15 points, followed by Hemsley with 12 and Jalen McDaniels and Matt Mitchell with 11 each.
“We played the No. 1 team in the country, we did some things well, obviously, there’s some things that they do way better than we do,” Dutcher said. ” I thought they played the game the right way, they moved the ball, they shared the ball, they executed their game plan and so I’m glad we got a chance to play them and obviously you want to come here and win this event.”
Up next, SDSU faces Xavier at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.
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