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Michigan State basketball pummeled by Vernon Carey-led Duke, 87-75

Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Basketball

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Tom Izzo implored his Michigan State players to avoid turnovers. He also really wanted Vernon Carey to be a Spartan.

Neither thing happened.

No. 8 Duke took advantage of miscues by No. 12 MSU early. The Spartans' giveaways turning into breakaway points the other way, their struggles at the free-throw line costing them easy points.

Then freshman big man Carey took over in the second half, exploiting MSU's thin interior for 26 points and 11 rebounds while exposing the Spartans to a 87-75 loss in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday at Breslin Center.

It was a dominating performance by the Blue Devils (8-1). They blocked 11 shots, got 10 steals and got unfettered dunks all game. Tre Jones added 20 points and 12 assists while owning the highly anticipated battle of point guards with MSU All-American Cassius Winston.

The Spartans (5-3) didn't help themselves, either. They went just 15 of 23 at the free-throw line. They gave the ball away 14 times for the game, including eight in the first half that led to 12 points. The Blue Devils also had an 11-1 first-half edge in transition thanks to those giveaways and finished with a 17-4 advantage on the break.

That leaves Tom Izzo now 2-12 all-time against Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski after he beat Duke for just the second time to get to his eighth Final Four in March. Tuesday was just the Blue Devils' second visit ever to MSU, the last exactly 16 years ago on Dec. 3, 2003, a 72-50 Duke win.

The Spartans, who were preseason No. 1 in both polls, continued their struggles in finding a rotation and consistency beyond Winston and Xavier Tillman, who combined for 32 points. Senior Winston had just 12 points on 4 of 14 shooting with seven assists, while junior Tillman finished with 20 points and eight rebounds.

Sophomore Aaron Henry was benched to start the second half with MSU down, 45-29. The Spartans opened on a 9-1 run, with Winston's 3-pointer forcing Krzyzewski to call timeout just 2:30 in.

 

But Duke made that up between sturdy Carey punishing the much thinner Bingham on post-ups in the paint. All it took was three trips for the Blue Devils to push away MSU's momentum.

Carey had a three-point play, then got fouled by Bingham on another layup attempt. He missed the ensuing free throw, but Duke got the ball and Joey Baker drained a 3-pointer to make that a five-point possession.

Then after MSU chipped it back to 13, Izzo got whistled for a technical foul for arguing a loose ball possession call. Jones hit the two free throws, then a driving, up-and-under scoop shot for a four-point trip. The Blue Devils went up 21 by the midpoint of the second half. Breslin's crowd died down again.

By the time a media timeout arrived with 6:14 to play, shortly after Winston was blocked on a layup attempt, it was clear who was in control. Duke's players bopped back to the bench. The Spartans, hands on hips, were completely gassed.

Izzo was left with his head in his hands. Back to the drawing board. And fast. The Spartans host Rutgers on Sunday (7 p.m./BTN).

(c)2019 Detroit Free Press

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