The Duke-Gonzaga showdown for the Maui Invitational Championship lived up to the hype as the No. 3 ‘Zags upset No. 1 Duke, 89-87. The Bulldogs also showed how to beat the Blue Devils.

Not many teams can do what the ‘Zags did to beat the top-ranked Blue Devils. But here’s how Gonzaga upset the nation’s top team.

2018 Maui Invitational: How Gonzaga beat Duke

Shoot lights out to build a lead

Not only did Gonzaga shoot well early against Duke, but it shot a ridiculous 18-for-25 to start the game, good for 72 percent, as the Bulldogs went ahead 42-30. The lead eventually stretched to 16 in the second half, 61-45.

Keep Duke’s attack in the half-court as long as you can by limiting turnovers

Part of the Blue Devils’ flair this year has been all the highlight dunks from Zion Williamson. Duke has also owned teams in transition.

But ‘Zags guard Josh Perkins was careful with the ball, committing only two turnovers. As a team, the Bulldogs committed only 11 turnovers.

Overcome Duke’s inside strength by winning from the 3-point line

Zion Williamson will get his dunks. The Blue Devils will own the offensive glass — Duke had 22 offensive rebounds to match Gonzaga’s 22 defensive boards. Williamson had seven offensive rebounds by himself.

Even with those differences and Duke going plus-9 on free throws (and Gonzaga missing four foul shots late), the Bulldogs’ 3-point shooting came through. Duke shot only 5-for-13 (38.5 percent), but Gonzaga made 11 3s and shot 52.6 percent from distance.

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Play calm when Duke goes on its run…and make enough stops late

A Duke run was inevitable. The question would be: How will Gonzaga respond late?

Duke’s only lead was at 2-0. But Williamson tied the game at 87 with a clutch shot with only 1:45 remaining.

No matter. Rui Hachimura answered less than 30 seconds later. Hachimura and Brandon Clarke then both recorded a pair of blocks in the final minute.

In the end, Gonzaga didn’t play scared against Duke’s powerful inside monsters. The Blue Devils had their moments, but the Bulldogs, with a little more veteran experience, had more.

 

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