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No. 1 Duke begins bid for Maui title vs. San Diego State

Sports Xchange
19 Nov 2018, 12:21 GMT+10

Duke knows how to get it done when the Blue Devils go to the Maui Invitational.

They own five tournament titles, the most of any team.

They embark on picking up another when they open play Monday against San Diego State at the Lahaina Civic Center.

Duke is ranked No. 1, the same rating it held when participating in the Maui Invitational in 1992 and 2001.

"It's a great opportunity for competition, and there are some big-time teams in the tournament, which usually there are when we're in the tournament," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who'll be aiming for a 20th in-season tournament crown with the Blue Devils.

Duke (3-0) has rolled to lopsided victories, but the Blue Devils insist they're taking strides that will pay off throughout the season.

"You've just got to play knowing that you're working for something bigger than that," freshman guard Tre Jones said of the impact of single games. "We've got to keep coming out and just trying to keep improving every single day."

As well-equipped as Duke is, this is the type of challenge that San Diego State (2-0) can embrace.

"I don't want to go over there (to Maui) and not have the chance to play the No. 1 team in the country," second-year coach Brian Dutcher said.

"That's why these kids come to San Diego State. We promise them we're going to play marque games and give them the opportunity to play on the biggest stage."

Duke will present a challenge as the Blue Devils have RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson both averaging 25.3 points per game -- marking the highest-scoring freshman duo in the country.

Dutcher's team has collected an 11-1 record in its last 12 games dating to last season.

The most recent result was a 103-64 trouncing of visiting Texas Southern on Wednesday. When the Aztecs had trouble dealing with pressure defense, there was reason for some alarm.

"I was a little concerned at the end of the game when they pressured us," Dutcher said. "We know that's what we're going to see against Duke. We're not going to come down and be able to just run through all our stuff."

San Diego State is 3-2 against Top 25 teams under Dutcher. The Aztecs are facing a No. 1-ranked team for the fourth time in program history.

"It's just a basketball game and we have to do what we do," San Diego State sophomore guard Jordan Schakel.

Dutcher also said he's aware of the need to retreat in transition defense. That will be an area to emphasize for the Duke game.

"Obviously, we want to try to slow it down a bit and try to keep the score lower and shorten the game," he said.

San Diego State is 2-0 for the first time in four seasons. The Aztecs are making their fourth appearance in the Maui Invitational.

San Diego State has a penchant for good results in eight-team, in-season tournaments, reaching the finals in their last eight such appearances with a 15-3 overall mark in those events.

Krzyzewski said it's a unique situation for most teams, but valuable at this time of the season.

"You learn, but you're playing three straight days, which will never happen otherwise during the season (other than potentially a conference tournament)," Krzyzewski said. "Success or failure there has to be looked at a little bit closer."

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