The Maui Invitational was bound to come down to the wire. With No. 6 Duke and No. 14 Kansas on the floor, it seemed inevitable that a tight battle was on the way. And who can complain? An early-season matchup between national powers and top-15 teams is always a treat.
The Jayhawks took a four-point lead into the half, taking advantage of a Duke scoring drought to create a bit of breathing room after a tense, close first half. But the space would be short-lived as Duke once again closed the deficit in the second half, igniting another
Austin Rivers picked up his fourth foul with 6:39 left in the game, forcing him to the bench to prevent an early foul out. After putting up eight points in the first half, Rivers struggled, adding just two more points before heading to the bench with four fouls. But as Rivers worked to get on track, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee picked up the slack, scoring in double-digits for the game.
Coming out of the final media timeout, with 3:37 to go, Duke held a one-point lead, 57-56. Both teams were in the midst of a scoring slump on the offensive end, with the defenses taking over as the game wound down. At the time, Duke had gone five minutes without a field goal, but the slump was broken by Andre Dawkins, who hit a three to answer Travis Releford's bucket for Kansas coming out of the timeout.
With a minute and a half to go and Duke still leading by two, Elijah Johnson buried a three to give the Jayhawks a one-point advantage. On the other end, though, Tyler Thornton immediately answered, burying a three of his own just seconds later to put Duke back on top. And the battle was on.
Kansas turned the ball over, but seemed to have Duke all bottled up on the other end with 30 seconds to go. But Thornton struck again, heaving a desperation, shot towards the hoop with the shot clock winding down and somehow finding the bottom of the net to give the Blue Devils a five-point advantage.
Mason Plumlee added two free throws to seal the win, and the Blue Devils won another Maui Invitational, downing Kansas in the championship, 68-61. It was Duke's fifth Maui Invitational championship, and the Blue Devils improved to 15-0 all-time in the tournament.