The 6th Duke 75-69 exit inside Cameroon Indoor Stadium on Tuesday was one of the most successful wins of the 8th Michigan State Youth College basketball season in the blue blood battle between the two top-10 teams. The Spartans (3-0) started slowly, but dug themselves in at half-time from a first-half deficit of 10 points and never backed down in the second half. Duke (1-1) ran late to reduce the lead to two possessions in the final minute before quickly beating Michigan State.
With five players finishing in double figures, Julius Marble II, Malik Hall and Joey Hauser, who scored 12, 10 and 11 points respectively, were also a consistent attack from Sparti. The Sophomore thriller Rocket Watts led the team with a maximum of 20 points.
Duke received his team-high return from his own returning sophomore stud, Matthew Hurt, who scored 21 points and finished with 13 high boards. But the Blue Devils counterattacked after a quick start, ending the night with a 62 of 20 off the ground and 23 out of 5 from the 3-point range, all but ending with three deep bombs coming in the final minute of the game. The MSU was not very good, producing five of its 20 outdoor shots, but it made up for it by making seven more shots off the ground and leading to a much more efficient ride after a sluggish start.
The win marks Tom Iso’s fellow Over Hall of Fame coach Mike Krewsowski in 15 attempts (!) At Michigan State’s first Cameron Indoor Stadium, which moved 1-3 into the historic building. Also, when he fell to Illinois 75-65 on December 2, 1995, it was the first time Duke had fallen more than two points in a non-conference home game.
Here are three key examples from the game.
Spartans can find a rhythm and a killer 1-2 punch
This is the answer to the question of who will return between Aaron Henry and Watts of Michigan State to replace Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman … both. Watts and Henry were clearly the best options in Sparti’s first real test of the season as they took 37 shots between them. Watts was somewhat effective, going 7 for 16 out of 20 points, 1 for 4 from the 3-point range and 5 for 7 in the free-throw order. But Henry also stretched some great plays. It was encouraging to see him being attacked and aggressive with tiny droplets. When he plays with confidence, he is a different player who can elevate this team to a new level.
Duke’s crime is ongoing
Duke might blow the doors like this and push it. It opened with a 13-3 lead within six minutes of playing, and everything – from the midrange to the first post – blames the Blue Devils. However, it was a slog all night. The team finished 5-to-23 from the 3-point range (which was pretty bad when you extracted junk time), and 62 out of 20 off the ground. The saving grace for the Duke was that it came to the line 30 times and converted 24 attempts into points. Duke has a few options in his attempt to replace Sophomore Sensation Point defender Trey Jones, but no one on the team has more than two assists, and the lack of shot-making is an obvious weakness.
Bench depth is an impressive strength for both teams
Duke had 11 points and four rebounds from Jaime Brakefield and 10 points and five boards from Jordan Goldwire, both of whom came off the bench. But the big story is that the state of Michigan unexpectedly saw a wave of production from its reserve division. Malik Hall, Julius Marble II and Foster Lower added 27 points and 17 boards from the pine, each contributing their own unique impact to the game – Marble with his size and interior scores, Hall length and reproduction, and Lower’s annoying style and energy with him. Neither Michigan State nor Duke have the same top-level talent they had last season, but both Iso and Krewski have the depth of days to offer the flexibility to experiment in different rows if teams stagnate. As the season goes on, the rotations solidify and the stars inevitably emerge, but having a quality opening and deep bench is a real luxury to celebrate in a year where depth and flexibility are required.