Henderson's 23 points lead Duke into Maui Invitational finalNov 21, 2007 - 6:13 AM MAUI, Hawaii (Ticker) -- There is something about Maui that just won't let Duke lose.
Gerald Henderson scored a career-high 23 points to lead the 10th-ranked Blue Devils to a 79-66 victory over Illinois in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday.
Senior guard DeMarcus Nelson scored 16 points and freshman sensation Kyle Singler battled foul trouble to add eight points for Duke, which is attempting to become the first school to win four Maui Invitational tournaments.
"It was a big-time game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Both teams played their hearts out. Our perimeter did an outstanding job."
The Blue Devils (4-0) won this event in 1992, 1997 and 2001, and own an 11-0 all-time record here after Tuesday's win.
Duke will face No. 13 Marquette in Wednesday's championship game. It is a rematch of last year's CBE title game, which was won by Marquette, 73-62.
"Coming into the tournament we felt that Marquette was the most explosive and veteran team," Krzyzewski said. "We came here to play really good competition and I think Marquette is one of the top teams in the country with that depth on the perimeter. They have five kids who can really play the perimeter.
The Fighting Illini jumped out to an 18-15 lead just over nine minutes into the game when Chester Frazier connected on a pair of free throws. Shaun Pruitt scored six points in the early moments while Brian Randle and Frazier each added four.
Duke responded with a 24-5 run over the next 7:16 to take a 39-23 lead. Henderson capped the run with a dunk with 3:32 remaining in the half and Nelson scored seven points during the spurt.
"I felt early in the first half there were a few gaps in their defense and I could drive their perimeter players," Henderson said. "Watching tape I thought it would be open and it worked out that way and I was able to finish shots."
Illinois climbed back into the game with a 13-5 run that closed the gap to 44-36 in favor of the Blue Devils at the half.
"We came out with a great deal of intensity early," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "Their big spurt at the end of the half hurt us. We got too far behind. They made too many shots, have too many weapons and we didn't shoot the ball well. Sometimes we can be offensively challenged."
But Duke kept the pressure on in the second half, pushing the advantage to as much as 19 points twice, with Henderson connecting on a jumper with 5:01 left in the game to give his team a 75-56 advantage and put the game out of reach.
"We were trying to switch a lot, which I thought hurt their offense," Krzyzewski said. "But once your shot goes up it is hard to find your man then. They were very aggressive. They had 22 offensive rebounds. You can't take every thing away from a team, but I thought we took some of their motion away, where they didn't get a good initial shot."
Randle scored 16 points for the Illini (3-1), who managed to connect on just 34 percent (21-of-61) of their field-goal attempts in the contest.
"It is a learning experience," Weber said. "We weren't good enough to beat them. Now a lot of it will be depend on how our team grows and where we can get to compete with a team of that quality in January, February and March. That is the most important thing."
Illinois will square off with Oklahoma State in the third-place game on Wednesday.
- EA SPORTS MAUI INVITATIONAL
AT MAUI HI
NCAA BB EA SPORTS MAUI INVITATIONAL
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
DUKE (10) 44 35 79
ILLINOIS 36 30 66 FINAL
Nov 20 11:46 PM
- EA SPORTS MAUI INVITATIONAL
AT MAUI HI
NCAA BB (10) DUKE 44
ILLINOIS 36 HALFTIME
Nov 20 10:28 PM
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