Duke and their talented roster went into East Lancing and performed spectacularly. This writer was certainly skeptical as Duke was missing Cassius Stanley, but they proved me wrong. They jumped all over the Michigan State Spartans early and often. Duke’s players clearly played with a chip on their shoulder this evening. It was Michigan State that ended some of their seasons prematurely last year in the Elite Eight. Veron Carey Jr and Tre Jones led the way for Duke. Cassius Winston got little help from his counterparts & no-showed in the second half. So what were the keys to the Duke victory? What did Michigan State struggle with? And where do both teams go from here? We will answer all those questions right now.
- Early Lead: When going on the road you have to put your stamp on the game early. Duke did this, leading 11-7 at the first commercial break. They continued to extend it, with Tre Jones distributing 7 assists in the half.
- Physical Defense: Duke may fouled 13 times, but they made Michigan State uncomfortable all half. They had six steals and seven blocks in the first half, which is huge.
- Strong Start For Veron Carey Jr: He looked like a man amongst boys out there. 15 points and 8 rebounds, while shooting 6/6 at the free-throw line. Michigan State simply had no answer for the 6 foot 10, 270-pound monster.
- Winston Had No Help: Cassius Winston only had seven points in the first half but lacked support. Marcus Bingham Jr. gave them 8, but Tilman and Henry combined for four points. Those two and Rocket Watts combined for four turnovers too.
- Poor Shooting & Rebounding: They shot only 36% from the field in the first half. They were only 1/7 from 3 and 8/13 at the free-throw line. When a team is fouling you constantly you must make them pay. They also got outrebounded 24-16 and 7-6 on the offensive glass. That is inexcusable at home in a big game and Tom Izzo knew it.
- Lost The Turnover Battle: The Spartans may have only had one more turnover (8-7), but they didn’t capitalize on theirs. Draymond Green was there and should’ve taught them how to run an effective fast break.
Halftime Score: Duke 45 Michigan State 29
- No Answer For Vernon Carey Jr: Vernon picked up where he left off in the first half. He helped weather the early Michigan State storm with a couple of and one’s. He finished the game with 26 points and 11 rebounds. His size just could not be matched and he played big in a big game for Duke.
- Baker & DeLaurier’s Hot Shooting: The returning Duke veterans had big nights in East Lancing. Joey and Javin combined to shoot 10/11 from the field for 21 points. Tre was feeding them all night and they delivered on the road, especially in the second half.
- Strong Defense Once Again: Much like in the first half, Duke fouled quite a bit in the second half. They were the much more physical team and it showed. Michigan State improved there shooting in the second half for sure. But Duke had nine steals and eleven blocks in that game. They also had only 8 fouls in the second half to keep guys on the floor.
- Hot Start To The Second Half: Michigan State was down by 16 at the half and cut the lead to 46-38 only a few minutes into the half. They contained Carey, turned over Tre Jones and Winston hit a big three. The crowd got into the game again and lifted this team back up.
- Couldn’t Stop Dukes Offense: Michigan State may have cut the lead to single digits, but Duke’s offense feasted again. Joey Baker did not miss a shot, Jack White hit a key 3 and Javin dunked everything. Even with 12 from Tillman in the second half, it did not matter.
- Winston No-Showed: Cassius Winston had a very poor second half. He added only 3 points as he was blocked constantly by Duke. Duke had 11 blocks and outside of his early 3 point bucket, Cassius had a tough half. It did not help it took Aaron Henry 39 minutes to get a bucket.
Final Score: Duke 87 Michigan State 75
What Is Up Next For Both Teams
Duke’s road trip does not end here. They now have a couple of days off before traveling to Virginia Tech on Friday. Their ACC rivals are 6-2 with a notable win over Michigan State. Duke better not sleep on these guys, as they can beat superior talent. Michigan State, on the other hand, will take on Rutgers at home on Sunday. Rutgers have started the season strong at 6-1, so Michigan State will be in tough against their Big Ten competitors.
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