NCAA BK

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 - 10:00 PM ET
Game Recap
 

Thornton's clutch 3-pointers spur Duke

Watch highlights of Duke's win over Kansas in the Maui Invitational title game.
Watch highlights of Duke's win over Kansas in the Maui Invitational title game.
Share This Story

   
 

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP)

The lead was two, shot clock winding down. With seemingly every Kansas player in his face, Tyler Thornton let a 3-pointer fly.

Barely able to see the rim through the sea of arms in front of him, Thornton knocked it down, keeping Duke on the throne as the kings of Maui.

Thornton capped a thrilling game between basketball behemoths, hitting an off-balance 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to give the sixth-ranked Blue Devils enough cushion to finish off a 68-61 win over No. 14 Kansas for its fifth Maui Invitational title.

''It's a dream shot,'' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. ''People will say it's a lucky shot, but I'll say I'm lucky to have him on my team. Sometimes you're on a bus with a guy who deserves and for that moment we were on his bus. Thank goodness he knew how to drive it.''

Thornton hit one 3-pointer with 1:10 left and put the Blue Devils ahead for good with his second, sending the crowd into a frenzy and Duke (7-0) to another title.

A player who had taken nine shots all season hit the two biggest to keep the Blue Devils undefeated in Maui Invitational at 15-0.

''I saw the rim, but it was a tough shot,'' said Thornton, who had just one other point.

The Blue Devils and Jayhawks went toe-to-toe from the start, electrifying the crowd with the kind of compelling counterpunching you'd expect from blue blood programs.

Unleashing an array of alley-oops, 3-pointers and teeth-jarring picks, they never let the other get too far ahead, with 16 lead changes and 12 ties.

ACC PREVIEW

North Carolina and Duke look like teams to beat, but are there other challengers out there? FOX Sports South has more.

Ryan Kelly hurt Kansas with his inside-outside game, scoring 17 points to earn MVP honors. Mason Plumlee gave the Jayhawks fits inside with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Kansas was led by Thomas Robinson, who had 16 points and 15 rebounds. Jeff Withey provided an unexpected lift with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Tyshawn Taylor had a solid first half on his way 17 points, but tired down the stretch to finish with 11 of Kansas' 17 turnovers.

Fittingly, it came down to a thrilling finish.

Eljiah Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 1:33 left to put Kansas (3-2) up 61-60. Thornton answered 23 seconds later, surprising the Jayhawks with a 3 of his own.

Thornton then put the punctuation on this classic in paradise, dropping in his did-he-just-do-that 3 after Taylor had his 11th turnover at the other end.

''We couldn't have guarded him any better,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ''That was unbelievable.''

This rare early matchup of college basketball powers had the potential to be one of the most exciting in the 28-year history of the Maui Invitational.

Duke's resume includes four national titles, the winningest coach in Division I history - Krzyzewski passed mentor Bobby Knight last week - and as strong a following as any team in the country.

CHEERS TO YOU

They're part of the magic every season. Enjoy our photo-gallery tribute to college basketball cheerleaders.

Kansas has three national titles, a coach who's won 83 percent of his games in Self and is right up there with the Blue Devils as a fan favorite.

Duke lost its top three scorers from last season, reloaded with another stellar recruiting class, headed by Austin Rivers. Big, versatile and athletic, the Blue Devils outlasted Tennessee to win their Maui opener, then shot past No. 15 Michigan in the semifinals.

Kansas lost a good chunk of its top end, too, not to mention half of its heralded recruiting class because of eligibility issues.

Still, the Jayhawks have Robinson, Taylor and three of those talented freshmen.

Kansas opened the Maui Invitational by bumping off gritty Georgetown, then outlasted UCLA in the semifinals after nearly blowing all of a 20-point lead.

By getting through one of the toughest brackets ever at the Maui Invitational, these two elite teams set up a championship game that figured to be as sparkling as the Pacific Ocean just outside.

The atmosphere inside quaint Lahaina Civic Center fit the matchup, with the rowdy fans from each team trading chants, cheers and boos.

''This is what the Maui Invitational is all about,'' Krzyewski said.

BIG 12 PREVIEW

Can Texas A&M or Baylor mount a serious challenge to Kansas' dominance in the Big 12? FOX Sports Houston has more.

The show lived up to the billing, starting with Rivers' deep, leg-splaying 3-pointer for the game's first points and an alley-oop by Miles Plumlee.

Robinson shook off a shot to the face in the first 15 seconds to throw down a pose-after-it dunk and Taylor had a surprising three-point play on his way to 13 first-half points, asking his teammates with an incredulous look if the shot went in.

Kansas also got a lift from Withey, who had 10 points after averaging 6.3 the first four games, to take a 35-31 lead at halftime.

The highlights continued in the second half.

Withey scored on an alley-oop from Taylor, who had an up-and-under reverse layup the next trip. Seth Curry opened with a 3-pointer, Kelly followed with one of his own.

It kept going like that until Thornton provided the knockout blow in a memorable Maui finale.

''Give him credit; I don't know if he even saw the rim when he took the shot,'' Self said. ''It was a great shot and that was the ballgame. That was game.''

An amazing one at that.

Tagged: Duke, Kansas, Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Jeff Withey, Tyler Thornton

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NCAA BK Videos

Georgetown, Syracuse to renew CBK rivalry Posted: Jun 10, 2014
Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III on the renewal of the rivalry betw...

Cuonzo Martin new head coach at Cal Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Cuonzo Martin is introduced as Cal's new head coach.

UConn tops Notre Dame in women's final Posted: Apr 09, 2014
Hear from Geno Auriemma and his players after their National Championship victor...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..