Duke punched first but Michigan State basketball responded and found a way to win on the road. What went right and what went wrong?
A win’s a win, even if it’s nearly coughed up in the final minutes after holding a 13-point lead with just under two remaining. Michigan State almost didn’t close out against Duke, but the Spartans found a way to hold on, making some clutch free throws down the stretch to put the pesky Blue Devils away, 75-69.
It wasn’t pretty throughout, however.
Michigan State fell behind big early on, trailing by double-digits in the first 10 minutes. They looked out of sorts, sloppy and just careless with the ball. It looked like they hadn’t practiced all week.
And then something clicked. Was it a huge and-one dunk by Malik Hall to make it an 18-15 game? It could have been, but it was probably more defense-related than anything else. The Spartans were playing lockdown defense all evening and that led to a nice run before half to take a 37-33 lead.
Momentum carried over into the second half as the Spartans went on a run to extend the lead to double-digits. They were flirting with a blowout win for the entirety of the second half, but Duke just wouldn’t go away.
Missing opportunities (free throws) and silly turnovers let Duke back in the game, but the Spartans did eventually hang on for a six-point win — their second in three years over the Blue Devils. This was also Michigan State’s first win in Durham ever.
What positives and negatives can we take from this statement victory?