Rushed Reactions: #2 Duke 71, #3 Michigan State 61Posted by WCarey on March 30th, 2013
Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament game between #2 Duke and #3 Michigan State in Indianapolis.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Seth Curry caught fire. The senior sharpshooter had a game to remember Friday night. He erupted for 29 points while shooting 6-of-9 from the three-point line. He had many open looks on the night, as Duke’s offense did an admirable job of getting him open. Curry has been an offensive dynamo throughout his collegiate career, but he took it to another level tonight. When you score 23 of your team’s first 41 points, you are making a huge impact on the game and that is what Curry did against Michigan State. Curry’s hot hand was never more evident than when he drained three from deep between the 19:18 and 17:12 marks of the second half. While the Duke lead was just three after that barrage from deep, it really forced the Spartans to put more pressure on Curry, which resulted in the rest of the Duke offense opening up.
- Duke’s defense was very impressive. Between the 12:05 and 3:32 mark of the second half, Michigan State did not make a shot from the field. Duke’s defense – anchored in the post by forwards Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly – did an outstanding job on three of Michigan State’s top four offensive weapons. Forward Adreian Payne was limited to just a 3-of-10 performance from the field. Big man Derrick Nix matched Payne’s 3-of-10 performance. Standout freshman guard Gary Harris had a very frustrating evening, as he only managed six points on a 2-of-11 mark from the field. The Blue Devils have now played excellent defense in two straight games – they held Creighton to just 30.2% shooting in their Round of 32 victory – and if they are able to keep that going against Louisville in Sunday’s regional final, there is a strong possibility that they will be playing in Atlanta next weekend.
- Louisville/Duke on Sunday for the Midwest Regional title has the potential to be a classic. Louisville and Duke have already met once this season. The Blue Devils topped the Cardinals, 76-71 in the championship game of the Battle for Atlantis on November 24. The major difference between that game and Sunday’s match-up is that Louisville will have the services of forward Gorgui Dieng, who missed the first contest with a wrist injury. Louisville enters Sunday’s regional final as winners of 13 consecutive games and it has arguably played the best basketball in the country over that period. The Cardinals have a dynamic lineup that is very strong in the backcourt and the frontcourt. It has been evident that Louisville has been much more talented than its first three NCAA Tournament opponents – North Carolina A&T, Colorado State, and Oregon – but the Cardinals will be tested by a similarly talented Duke squad when the two meet for a trip to the Final Four. Considering the plethora of talent on both sides, it is very difficult to make a prediction on what may happen on Sunday afternoon, but it is fair to say that it has all the makings of a classic basketball game.
Star of the Game. Seth Curry, Duke. The Duke senior put up a terrific performance Friday night. He tallied 29 points on 6-of-9 from the three-point line and also converted on all seven of his free throw attempts. On a night where his teammates were just a combined 1-of-9 from deep, Curry’s performance was enormous in leading the Blue Devils to the victory.
- “I feel like we just never got on track.” – Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, acknowledging how he felt that the Spartans were just never able to get in much of a rhythm offensively.
- “They kept calling things I didn’t agree with.” – Izzo, talking about how the pace of the game was interrupted by a good amount of foul calls. He was not too thrilled with the fact that the Spartans had 24 team fouls on the game, while Duke had just 17.
- “Seth was at a different level than anyone on the court offensively.” – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, praising the fantastic performance Seth Curry turned in.
- “Coming into the game, everyone was talking about how tough and physical they were and we took that challenge.” – Duke guard Seth Curry, talking about how him and his teammates knew they had to step up their tenacity on the defensive end of the court.
Sights and Sounds. Both Duke and Michigan State were well represented at Lucas Oil Stadium. While Michigan State probably had more of a following, the Duke following certainly made its presence known throughout the game. The Spartan fans spent most of the second half expressing their disgust with the officials. Most of the Louisville fans from the first game also stuck around to see who their team would play on Sunday.
What’s Next. Duke advances to the Elite Eight where it will face Louisville on Sunday afternoon at 5:05 PM EST. This game is of the utmost significance as a trip to the Final Four is on the line.