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Next Up - Gonzaga

Auburn wasn’t easy and the Zags won’t be either.

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Maui Invitational - Auburn Tigers v Duke Blue Devils
LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 20: Austin Wiley #50 of the Auburn Tigers grabs the rebound and shoots over Marques Bolden #20 of the Duke Blue Devils during the second half of the game at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 20, 2018 in Lahaina, Hawaii.
Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

With the win over a very tough Auburn squad, Duke moves into the finals of the Maui Classic and will face Gonzaga.

The Zags had a tough first half against Arizona, trailing by eight, but came alive and ran away in the second, winning 91-74.

That’s a 25 point turnaround and that’s dominant.

Everyone is talking about Rui Hachimura (6-8/230), who had a funny 94 feet with Jay Bilas Tuesday night (Bilas walks the length of a court and asks questions of a particular player), and he was spectacular against Arizona, shooting 10-16 for 24 points. He also grabbed six boards and had two steals. He’s averaging 23 ppg.

He’s not the only weapon the Zags have though.

Brandon Clarke (6-8/215) is also highly talented. He’s putting up 15.2 ppg and 7.8 rpg while Zach Norvell Jr. (6-5/20 is averaging 17.6 and Josh Perkins 12.2.

Gonzaga is missing a key piece in forward Killian Tillie, out with a stress fracture.

That hurts in another way too as Gonzaga has long been a program that favors bigs. Right now the biggest regular is Filip Petrusev, a 6-11 freshman from Serbia.

Since Duke is not a huge team either that may not matter as much although Marques Bolden had his best game at Duke against Auburn and is getting better quickly.

Still, this is mostly going to be about what we used to call forwards.

One thing to keep in mind: after the Auburn game, Coach K said that Zion Williamson “wasn’t himself” and didn’t play with his usual verve. We’ll see what happens tonight.

One final note.

We were pulling for Gonzaga to beat Arizona because we thought it would make for the best game but also because we didn’t want to play Chase Jeter.

The Duke transfer has settled in with the Wildcats, starting and becoming a valuable member.

Unfortunately he didn’t do that well against Gonzaga, finishing with three points, five rebounds and fouling out in 19 minutes.

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