The Duke-Michigan State matchup has been one that fans of college basketball mentally and possibly literally circled since the bracket was announced. Two of the game’s elite coaches leading two of the NCAA’s elite programs did not disappoint in the first half.
Coach K’s Blue Devils were dominant in the second half as his team went on to win 71-61.
The Blue Devils were led by a monster performance from Senior guard Seth Curry who scored 29 as Duke advanced to the Elite Eight.
Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon also contributed 16 points while the team’s leading scorer on the season, Senior Mason Plumlee added 14.
Duke led throughout most of the first half and held a 32-31 lead at the end of the first 20 minutes of action as the Spartans closed strong, nipping at the heels of the Blue Devils as they entered the locker rooms.
The battle continued through the early part of the second half until Duke went on a 9-0 run several minutes in to extend their lead to 47-38.
Then a foul that sent Adreian Payne to the line for three free throws brought the game to 47-41. It is impossible to overstate the impact that Payne has on a basketball game. The Junior forward scored 14 points and added 9 rebounds and 2 blocks to lead the way for the Spartans, and one would think his career will certainly be productive at the next level.
Keith Appling was the high scorer for Michigan State with 16 points.
While those free throws from Payne closed the gap, the Spartans proved incapable of seizing the momentum and Duke maintained a several point advantage and even expanded the lead to 56-46 with under nine minutes remaining in the game.
The Blue Devils played stellar defense from the floor in the second half, and the Spartans had only one field goal after the 17:10 mark until about 3 and a half minutes remained in the ball game.
Michigan State struggled to make shots, had some poorly timed fouls, and lacked the intelligent decision making of a typical Tom Izzo coached team.
Consensus favorite and Breitbart Sports’ projected champion Louisville awaits Duke. After a stellar performance, the Blue Devils will certainly pose a serious threat against the Cardinals, who they beat earlier in the season.