No. 1 Duke, No. 8 Auburn in big Maui matchup

Usually when heavyweights collide in Hawaii, it's a pair of Sumo wrestlers squaring off in a circular ring.

On Tuesday night, a more traditional mainland heavyweight collision is on tap when No. 1 Duke and No. 8 Auburn meet in a semifinal game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

The Blue Devils (4-0) easily dispatched San Diego State on Monday, cruising to a 90-64 victory against the Aztecs at the Lahaina Civic Center.

Earlier in the day, the Tigers kicked off the tournament with a thrilling 88-79 overtime victory over Xavier.

Auburn (4-0) likes to push the tempo and shoot the 3. Against the Musketeers, Bruce Pearl's squad connected on 11 of 35 shots beyond the arc. The Tigers recorded 10 steals and forced 22 turnovers.

Coincidentally, Duke, which is 16-0 at Maui, also prefers an up-tempo pace, but as the Blue Devils showed against the Aztecs, they're pretty good at playing at a methodical pace as well.

San Diego State clogged the middle and forced Duke to beat them from outside, and the Blue Devils happily obliged, draining 10 of 25 3-point attempts.

"As long as our guys were ready to shoot, they were ready to shoot and they knocked them down," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I thought that was the differential in the first half."

Neither team found much rhythm in the first half, yet Duke led by 17 at intermission. They stretched the lead to 35, which allowed Krzyzewski to rest his starters.

Pearl didn't have that luxury as the Tigers wasted a five-point lead with a minute to go and ended up in overtime. Yet playing a close game might be an advantage for Auburn should the Tigers be able to keep it close against Duke.

Auburn boasts one of the best guard tandems Duke will see with Jared Harper and Bryce Brown. They combined for 51 points against Xavier.

The Tigers are confident and are ready for the challenge.

"I feel like we're more ready than anybody, to be honest," Brown said. "We have an extremely deep team. With our guards and our bigs, we have a lot of depth. Or depth, we are more prepared than anybody," he added.

Krzyzewski is well aware of what the Tigers are capable of doing. They shoot the 3 well (10-for-27 against Xavier) and when they get to the free-throw line the Tigers don't miss (21 of 24 on Monday).

"They have more veterans, but Maui puts you in unusual situations. I think overall those situations, if you handle them well get you better. If you don't handle them well, you lose. But you learn why you can lose," Krzyzewski said. "So we get to see how our young guys do in that situation against a Top-10 team, a very well coached team."

The Auburn defense will have its hands full against freshman Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and R.J. Barret, who combined for 49 points against the Aztecs.

But Duke has plenty of depth as well with Tre Jones, Jack White, Javin DeLaurier and 7-foot center Antonio Vrankovic.

Still, the diminutive Harper isn't rattled by the prospects of facing what's been called one of the best assembled college teams of all time.

"If we can defend and rebound, we can play with anyone," he said. "Rebounding will be a focus for us."

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