No. 8 Auburn tested top-ranked Duke in the second round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational on Tuesday, but in the end, it was just too much Marques Bolden and RJ Barrett as the Tigers lost for the first time this year and the Blue Devils (5-0) won for the 18th time without a loss in Maui.
Just a few hours after Duke dispatched the Tigers in a hard-fought 78-72 battle, Arizona fell to No. 3 Gonzaga 91-74 setting up a Tigers-Wildcats third-place game on Wednesday.
Arizona, a two-time champion of the Maui, got off to a solid start against Gonzaga as the two bluebloods slugged it out for the first 14 minutes before the Wildcats started to pull away.
Two free throws by Justin Coleman put the Cats up 31-28 with just under seven minutes left in the half. The lead would grow to 10 on two more free throws by Coleman.
"I thought we did a great job for the first 20 minutes and had them on their heels," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. "Then we were overwhelmed in the second. ... A true tale of two halves. We were outscored 54-29, and that's all you need to know."
Arizona would take a 45-37 lead into intermission and come out for the final 20 minutes and go up 50-37 before Gonzaga had seen enough and quickly erased the deficit to take control.
The game's most critical play came after a Zach Norvell 3-pointer brought the Bulldogs to within one at 53-52.
Arizona's Chase Jeter was called on a questionable foul on an entry pass under the basket. Jeter, sprawled out on the floor, protested and was called for a technical foul. Norvell sank the technical and followed up with a layup to put the Bulldogs in the driver's seat.
The technical was Jeter's fourth and fifth fouls and Gonzaga took advantage and went on a 19-3 run to seal the game.
"Emotions got the best of Chase," Miller said. "We're not a very deep team up front. Losing him didn't help. And it gave them an extra surge of momentum."
Auburn's start was in contrast to Arizona's, albeit the outcome was the same.
Pearl lamented the Tigers' slow start as Duke opened up an eight-point lead after five minutes, extended their advantage to 14 with just under 12 to go and led wire-to-wire.
"We let them set the tone. They got whatever they wanted early," Pearl said. "We let them get to the middle and turn the corners. We made adjustments. When we kept them on the sides ... gave us a fighting chance.
"We threatened them, but they were never scared."
The Tigers guard tandem of Jared Harper and Bryce Brown combined for 38 points against Duke, with Harper scoring 22 and Brown 16. Austin Wiley added 17 points and nine boards for Auburn.
To beat Arizona and win for a second time on this trip to Hawaii, Wiley said, "We need to get back in the lab and get better."
Pearl will need the same kind of production against the Wildcats come Wednesday night.
Coleman led the Wildcats with 28 points and Brandon Randolph put up 19 points. Ryan Luther hauled down eight rebounds.
Arizona comes into Wednesday's game averaging 80.5 points per game while giving up only 58.3 per game. Auburn is averaging 90.4 points per game and allowing opponents 66.6.