Faced with their toughest test yet this year, Duke proved they are a formidable top team. Duke hasn’t lost a non-conference home game since 2000 against a St. Johns team featuring Ron Artest. Needless to say, they weren’t looking to end that streak tonight. Michigan State wasn’t going to make it easy on them though. You could argue that these two schools have been the two best college basketball programs over the past 10 years.
On a night when Kyle Singler struggled early, somebody needed to step up. Coming off a game in Portland where Singler out-dueled Oregon against his brother, this was an unexpected first half from him.
Enter Kyrie Irving. He was sensational tonight. He has been the recipient of quite a bit of praise lately, almost too much if you ask me. But after tonight’s performance, it’s tough to make an argument against him. He had 31 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. If you can’t stand Dick Vitale drooling over Duke, you probably turned the television off well before it was over. If you did you missed a great game.
With 10:24 min left in the second half, Singler finally connected on his first 3-point attempt (unfortunately for him it was his 5th try). Two possessions later Kyle Singler connected on another 3-pointer. While Cameron Indoor was going wild Korie Lucious responded with a 3-pointer of his own, only to be one upped by a Nolan Smith’s 3-pointer 20 seconds later to put Duke up 10.
Tom Izzo called a timeout to regroup his team. The game could have easily gotten out of hand but the Spartans fought back. Over the next 7 min they actually brought the game to within 5 points but Duke was able to hold on while making their final 9 of 12 free throws late in the game. The real achilles heal for the Spartans tonight were their 20 turnovers that Duke converted into 28 points. It’s tough to win with that many turnovers.
While I’m sure Kyrie Irving will be praised for his performance tonight, Mason Plumlee quietly had another impressive night. He continues to fill the big Zoubekian shoes as he finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 5 steals. And in true Zoubek fashion, 7 of those rebounds were on the offensive boards.
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Written by Brian Ivory