Duke overcame a great performance by Tom Izzy’s Michigan State to win 85-76 largely because of a tremendous closing kick.
Both teams played at a high level but when a more experienced bunch of Spartans took the lead back on a three by Tyson Walker and went up 68-65, things didn’t look good. Then Michigan State pushed the lead to five when Marcus Bingham hit a pair of free throws, things were not looking good. But Duke was about to go on a 15 point run.
Paolo Banchero hit a remarkable layup to cut the lead back to three. Jeremy Roach followed with a layup of his own to cut it to 70-69.
Joey Hauser hit a pair of freebies then Trevor Keels hit a huge three to tie it back up.
AJ Hoggard hit a layup to put Sparty back up 74-72 then Keels split on free throws.
Then Banchero hit a basket and Jeremy Roach followed with one of the ballsiest threes for Duke in the NCAA tournament since Bobby Hurley hit that huge shot late against UNLV in 1991.
Duke by four.
Then Wendell Moore hit his free throws before Walker hit a layup for Michigan State’s final points. Five more free throws for the Devils sent them to the Sweet Sixteen.
This was never going to be an easy game. The only way beating Michigan State is ever going to be easy is if they beat themselves or maybe play you in November, but that’s by design. That team is wiling to take losses to toughen up.
The Spartans hit 11-22 on threes to Duke’s 5-13 which is a problem. But Duke hit 27 two point baskets and 16 free throws along with those five threes. And Mark Williams, Paolo Banchero and Theo John made like tough inside for Michigan State. Williams had five blocks and altered numerous shots. Some they just didn’t dare try with him nearby.
There was a lot to like in this game but maybe the most amazing thing was the play of Roach. He finished with 15 points and showed a quickness and ruthlessness that we have seen glimpses of but never this much. A lot of praise to pass around but he gets some special acknowledgement, not least of all for that amazingly ballsy last three.
You can’t overlook Banchero’s block or that Moore was alert enough to get the ball back. But as Michael Jordan once said, when the game is on the line, a lot of guys will look away. Roach embraced it and changed the complexion of the game completely.
For Roach, it was a brilliant moment.
And for Duke?
For Duke, it means Duke is being...Duke.
Coach K incidentally won his 1,200th game and, if we remember correctly, also his 100th NCAA game. That works out to almost four extra seasons on his legendary career.
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Player Of The Game vs. Michigan State
This poll is closed