No. 15 Michigan trailed Duke by as much as 17 in the second half, but the Wolverines turned it into two-possession game with just seconds remaining. However, the No. 6 Blue Devils closed out the game from the free-throw line and pulled away for the 82-75 win.
Duke ended Michigan’s storybook run in the postseason last year during the third round of the NCAA Tournament. But both teams had to replace their point guards this season. Duke needed to find someone to step into the shoes of Kyrie Irving and Nolan Smith, while Michigan needed someone to pick up the production lost with Darius Morris’ departure. But in the Maui Invitational, two freshmen have both stepped into the light and carried the load for their teams. For Duke, it’s Austin Rivers and for Michigan, it’s Trey Burke.
Duke didn’t struggle with the Wolverines’ 1-3-1 zone defense as much as it did last time the two played. The Blue Devils spread the floor and used ball movement to exploit some of Michigan’s rotational problems. Duke shot 50 percent from behind the 3-point line, and several of those shots were wide open or lightly guarded.
And in the stands, it seemed like an NBA reunion -- Tim Hardaway Sr., Tito Horford, Dell Curry and Glenn Anton "Doc" Rivers. Fittingly, the play on the court looked like a preview of the NBA in a few seasons.
1. The Burke show continued. The freshman point guard led the Wolverines with 17 points, eight assists and three rebounds. At times, he maneuvered through Duke’s defense with ease and ran the floor like Morris. It was easy to forget that this was just his fifth college basketball game of his career. The freshman has notched two impressive performances against top-10 opponents and the national stage has not seemed to bother him in the least.
But there were times, especially when Duke was beginning to mount its lead in the second half, when Burke played too quickly or made careless passes. It seemed as though he was beginning to play outside of his abilities and rather than letting the game come to him. He tried to take too much control, and unfortunately, it just resulted in him looking out of control.
2. Tim Hardaway Jr. was held scoreless in the first half. He was 0-for-6 from the floor and the rest of his stat line wasn’t too impressive either -- one rebound, zero assists. Duke used junior guard Andre Dawkins and Rivers to deny the ball to Hardaway Jr. on the perimeter. In the second half, Hardaway Jr. came out and scored 19 points while shooting 6-for-8 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line. But Michigan’s 12-point halftime deficit was correlated to Hardaway Jr.’s goose egg.
3. Fouls, fouls, fouls. Senior guard Zack Novak’s 3-pointer that pulled Michigan with five points with 32 seconds remaining was overshadowed by his intentional foul just moments later. Junior forward Ryan Kelly got to step to the line for two technical-foul shots, but even before then, the Blue Devils had gone into the bonus. In the final minute, Duke shot 11-for-14 from the line, securing its victory from the charity stripe. Sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz fouled out with 44 seconds remaining, and Burke and Novak both finished with three fouls apiece.