5Duke
3Kansas
68 - 61 Final
  for this game

Duke tops Kansas to win Maui Invitational

Nov 24, 2011 - 8:38 AM Maui, HI (Sports Network) - Little-used sophomore guard Tyler Thornton hit two three-pointers in the waning minutes of the Maui Invitational championship game to vault No. 6 Duke to a 68-61 win over No. 14 Kansas.

Thornton's second trey gave Duke a 66-61 lead with 21 seconds remaining in the back-and-forth contest, sealing the Blue Devils' 5th Maui Invitational title.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski called Thornton's three "a dream shot."

"I mean, we're lucky. People say it's a lucky shot, but I will tell you I'm lucky to have him on my team to shoot the shot," the coach said.

Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee both scored 17 points to pace the Blue Devils (7-0), who improved to 15-0 all-time in the tourney.

They also captured championships in 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2007.

Tyshawn Taylor scored 17 points for the Jayhawks (3-2), but committed 11 turnovers.

Thomas Robinson added 16 points and 15 rebounds, while Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson scored 14 and 10 points, respectively, in the loss.

Duke and Kansas have met nine times in their respective storied histories. Eight of those nine matchups have been decided by 10 points or less, with Wednesday's title game aptly fitting the pattern.

"We came to Kansas for games like this," said Robinson. "I do believe -- I haven't been around that long, I'm still a young player -- but I do believe that game will go down as one of the top games of the tournament. It's too bad we got the short end of the stick, but I feel that my team got better."

The Jayhawks opened the second half with a 6-3 run, grabbing a 41-34 advantage -- their largest of the game.

The Blue Devils, who have won eight straight games against Big 12 opponents, didn't falter, instead battling back to take a 47-46 lead on Kelly's layup with 13:43 remaining.

The bucket triggered a frenzied back-and-forth finish, with neither team gaining more than a three-point advantage until the final minute.

With 1:33 remaining, Johnson buried a trey for a 61-60 Kansas lead, but Thornton responded with a three on the Blue Devils' next possession.

Taylor then turned the ball over out of a Kansas timeout and Thornton delivered the decisive blow, hitting a deep, high-arching trey from the corner with just one second left on the shot clock.

"I looked at the shot clock, it was three seconds, and I just tried to get up a good shot," said Thornton. "Once it left my hands, I kind of thought it was going to be good and luckily it was. There were a lot of plays leading up to that play that we did on defensive ends. That was very important."

Plumlee knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the final margin.

Thornton's late sharpshooting highlighted a key to the Duke victory, as the Blue Devils hit 11-of-25 three-pointers for the game, compared to just 2-of-8 for the Jayhawks.

Kansas, though, held a 17-13 free throw advantage, and used a 12-of-14 performance from the charity stripe to grab a 35-31 lead at the half.

Game Notes

Duke leads the all-time series, 7-2...Five of the nine games between the two teams have come in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils captured their first NCAA Championship with a victory over Kansas in 1991...Duke is 15-0 all-time at the Lahaina Civic Center..The Blue Devils downed Belmont, Tennessee and Michigan to reach the finals of the Maui Invitational, while Kansas defeated Towson, Georgetown and UCLA.