Michigan State Basketball: Duke win would go long way for team’s confidence

Michigan State basketball gets a big-time matchup with Duke on Tuesday night and here’s everything you need to know for the battle.

While this isn’t the top-five matchup everyone thought they’d see when the season began, Michigan State’s battle with Duke in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Tuesday night will still have all of the intrigue.

The Spartans (5-2) come into this game riding a two-game winning streak after a disappointing loss to Virginia Tech in the Maui opener. They are led by senior point guard Cassius Winston who has had a solid season to date, averaging 17.9 points and 6.0 assists per game. However, he’s still dealing with the tragic loss of his brother and the Spartans have proven that they need to find other options on offense to take the pressure off him.

Michigan State is averaging 80.9 points per game with a shooting percentage of around 47 percent from the floor but the 3-point shooting must improve — it has been better over the past two games.

Duke, on the other hand, just snuck by Winthrop at home one game after losing to Stephen F. Austin in the upset of the year at Cameron Indoor. The Blue Devils (7-1) beat Kansas in the season opener and look to prove that they’re worthy of being in the top 10 for the long run.

They’ll have to do so without Cassius Stanley, at least for the time being, as the talented freshman was injured against Winthrop. He will likely be out until after Christmas, per Mike Krzyzewski. The Spartans must lock down Vernon Carey Jr. in the post and contain Tre Jones.

Here’s how you can watch Tuesday’s game against Duke:

Date: Tuesday, Dec. 3
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: East Lansing, Mich.
Venue: Breslin Center
Live Stream: WatchESPN

Keys to Victory

Feed the post. This one’s easy, give the ball to Xavier Tillman down low and let him go to work on Carey Jr. While this might seem like a mismatch, Tillman needs to facilitate like he usually does when he gets the ball down low or have the option to go right at the talented freshman and get him into foul trouble. Tillman is an above average passer for a big man so he can get it in the post and kick it out for an open jumper or a slashing guard.

Defensively, the Spartans must body up on Carey Jr. He’s leading the Blue Devils in scoring and it’s because he’s stronger and more aggressive than most bigs.

Next: 3 takeaways from Maui win over UCLA


Michigan State has almost every advantage in this one and should a loss would be unacceptable at home. The home crowd should juice the Spartans up as they play one of their more complete games of the season, locking down former Spartan recruit Vernon Carey Jr. Xavier Tillman, too, will bounce back to have his best game of the season.

Final Score: Duke 70, Michigan State 77

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