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The Dagger

Seth Curry’s torrid shooting allows Duke to get the best of Michigan State once again

The Dagger

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo's 13-year-old son, Steven, couldn't bring himself to pick his dad's team to beat Duke when filling out his NCAA tournament bracket.

Smart kid.

In a game billed not only as a battle of coaching legends but of Duke's adept perimeter shooting versus Michigan State's toughness and interior play, the Blue Devil way won Friday night 71-61 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Duke guard Seth Curry made six of his first seven 3-point attempts and had 23 points with 17 minutes left in the game when Izzo called timeout to work out a better plan for guarding the senior sharpshooter. Curry's marksmanship kept the Spartans at bay each time they pulled close through the first 30 minutes.

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Curry's scoring pace slowed as the game wore on following Izzo's timeout, but Duke defended well and stymied Michigan State on the offensive end throughout the second half. Curry finished with 29 points on 8-for-17 shooting.

Michigan State made just one field goal during a 14-minute stretch, but managed to stay within striking distance by getting to the foul line 24 times and making 18 of those attempts.

It didn't help that Michigan State big man Derrick Nix was forced to the bench for a lengthy period in the second half after picking up his third foul. Nix and forward Adreian Payne combined to make six of 20 shots and score 23 points.

Meanwhile, Duke big man Mason Plumlee managed to play effectively for the Blue Devils three and four fouls. Plumlee scored 14 points and Rasheed Sulaimon had 16.

If Duke had not endured a similar cold stretch late in the first half, going without a field goal for more than 6 minutes, the Blue Devils might have run away with it.

Duke also appeared to be robbed of two points when officials failed to call goaltending on Adreian Payne when he snatched a Seth Curry floater out of the air with approximately 8 minutes, 30 seconds left in the half. That non-call seemed like it might factor into the outcome because the game was so tightly contested at the time.

It was the eighth meeting overall between Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and the fourth in the NCAA tournament. Krzyzewski holds a 7-1 advantage.

His reward for beating Izzo and Michigan State is a confrontation Sunday with Rick Pitino and Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, and it's stellar back court and high-pressure defense.

Duke advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since winning the national title in 2010.The Blue Devils are one win away from their 16th Final Four appearance.

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