Having accidentally flung his shoe into the third row of Duke's infamous student section after it slipped off during Tuesday night's first half, Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas faced an unusual problem at the next stoppage of play.
He had to ask the Cameron Crazies for his shoe back.
Not only did the Duke student who caught Stauskas' shoe actually return it, a handful of Duke fans also jokingly offered their shoes too. That was about the only thing that went right the whole night for Stauskas, who scored only four points and missed his only two shots from the field as 10th-ranked Duke throttled 22nd-ranked Michigan 79-69 behind an uncharacteristically strong defensive effort.
Aware that Stauskas entered the game averaging 20.3 points per game, Duke focused its defensive efforts on limiting his touches. Tyler Thornton and freshman Matt Jones shadowed Stauskas everywhere he went on the floor in an effort to make someone else on Michigan play the role of go-to scorer.
The combination of Duke's defense and a sprained ankle suffered the previous week kept Stauskas from having his usual impact on the game. Caris LeVert carried the Wolverines with 24 points and Mitch McGary padded his stats with some late buckets after the game was out of reach, but minimal production from Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III was too much for Michigan to overcome on the road.
Another strong defensive effort from Duke was an encouraging sign for the Blue Devils. Questions about their ability to defend the dribble or protect the rim emerged after Vermont scored 90 points at Cameron Indoor Stadium last month, but Duke responded with two solid defensive games against Alabama and Arizona in the NIT Season Tip-Off and its best game of the season against Michigan.
Stauskas was so quiet during the game that his most memorable moments both involved interactions with Duke fans. In addition to his shoe throwing incident, he also high-fived members of the Cameron Crazies as they were doing their trademark spirit fingers in his direction as he went to inbound the ball.