This week, we take a look at a huge top-three showdown from Hawaii. On Wednesday, November 21, #3 Gonzaga defeated #1 Duke in the final of the Maui Invitation 89-87.
This game featured two teams with terrific offenses complemented with fairly good defenses. According to KenPom, Duke currently ranks second—only behind Nevada—in adjusted offensive efficiency and eighth in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Zags rank fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency and 27th in adjusted defensive efficiency. In this game, however, Gonzaga was able to use some terrific passing to free up open more open looks than Duke. The Bulldogs were able to shoot 52.3% from the field, while—most importantly—shooting 52.6% (10-19) from three. They were also able to hold the Blue Devils to 43.1% from the field but did give up some looks from three (5-13, or 38.5%).
Senior point guard Josh Perkins led the way with seven of his team’s 16 assists. These seven were fairly evenly distributed, as two were directed toward freshman center Filip Petrusev with the rest toward junior forwards Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke, sophomore wings Zach Norvell Jr. and Corey Kispert, and senior forward Jeremy Jones. Hachimura, along with his 20 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks, also distributed five assists. Brandon Clarke (17 points) benefited from three of his five assists, while Perkins and Norvell Jr. received the other two.
As a result of this game, the Bulldogs and Blue Devils have switched places in the AP Poll, with Gonzaga now ranking as the #1 team in the country and Duke #3. As the two are not slated to play each other again during the regular season, one can only hope to witness another showdown between the two offensive powerhouses.