Michigan State falls to Duke, 81-61


Duke was too much for Michigan State as they bullied their way to an 81-61 win. With the exception of the first five minutes of the game, Duke dominated the Spartans and did not let up. Michigan State looked outmatched and could not make a shot and Duke took full advantage.

After being hot from three early in the first half, Michigan State struggled getting a basket for the last 16 minutes of the first half, including a couple of six-minute scoring droughts. The Spartans started five-for-seven but finished the first half going, three-for-twenty and shot 29 percent and committed 12 fouls, leading to 16 Duke free-throw attempts.

Duke was able to slow the tempo of the game down and for MSU to become a half court team. After being held to single digits his last two tournament games, Duke forward, Jahil Okafor scored 10 points and grabbed three rebounds in the first half.

The Spartans trailed 36-25 at the half and seemed confused and could not beak Duke’s stout defense. They could not penetrate and had to settle for forced jump shots or just turn the ball over.

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Outside of Denzel Valentine’s 11 points and six rebounds, nobody produced for Michigan State in the first half.

The second half was more of the same. Duke players turned up their intensity while MSU’s players were unable to match their opponent’s energy. Plagued by fouls, the Spartans were unable to find a consistent rhythm.

As a team, Michigan State shot 40 percent from the field and could not get their three-point shot to fall, shooting just 37 percent from three. In their defense, MSU did shoot a better percentage in the second half, unfortunately Duke did as well.

For Michigan State, there was not much to speak of. Denzel Valentine scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Trice was held in check even though he managed to score 16 points.  Having the assignment of trying to contain Okafor, Branden Dawson managed to score 12 points and grab seven rebounds.

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Justise Winslow and Okafor gave MSU everything they could handle. Winslow finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds while Okafor added 18 points and six rebounds                .

Careless turnovers hurt the team as well. Normally a team known for taking care of the ball, MSU coughed the ball up 14 times, leading to easy transition points for Duke.

Normally an up tempo team, Duke prevented MSU from playing their style of basketball. Duke was able to slow the game down and force the Spartans to play a half-court brand of basketball. Michigan State struggled setting up their offense and looked lost at times.

Duke was the more physical team and took MSU out of their comfort zone early and it worked to their benefit. Duke was the better team and simply out worked and out hustled Michigan State. They won the free-throw battle, turnover battle and rebounding battle.

Despite being blown out, Michigan State turned in a very solid season and made it a lot further than a lot of people expected.

With this loss to Duke, Tom Izzo falls to 1-9 against Mike Krzyzewski.