DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing seemed to be playing their own version of H-O-R-S-E, matching each other shot for shot, point for point.
Duke needed almost every one of them.
The backcourt duo both scored 29 points and made five 3-pointers, helping the 10th-ranked Blue Devils hold off No. 11 Michigan State 81-74 on Tuesday night in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Redick had 21 points in the first half, and Ewing took up the slack after the break, scoring 15. Duke (4-0) improved to 6-0 in the made-for-TV challenge and beat the Spartans (3-1) for the second straight season.
“I was definitely in the zone in the first half,” Redick said. “I was really in the flow of the offense. It felt good, that was the first time it’s been that way this year.”
Ewing’s last 3 came in the final minute, when he swished one with the shot clock winding down to give Duke a 78-73 lead. That margin proved to be enough when Michigan State’s Paul Davis missed two free throws with 15 seconds left, part of a 3-for-8 run from the line down the stretch for the Spartans.
“We know we’re a good team,” Ewing said. “We just did what we had to do.”
This one was much closer than a year ago, when the Blue Devils ran away to a 72-50 victory. And it had all the intensity of an NCAA tournament game.
Ewing and Michigan State’s Alan Anderson were called for technical fouls after trading elbows during a loose ball scrum in the first half. That came minutes after an intentional foul was called on Maurice Ager when he tried to stop Redick from an easy basket.
The Cameron Crazies let Ager hear about it, too, chanting “Ron Artest, Ron Artest.”
“I don’t know if it was like March, but it was tough out there,” Redick said. “It definitely didn’t feel like the fourth game of the season.”
Davis led the Spartans with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Anderson added 15 points.
“We just wanted to try to come down here and try to get a win,” Davis said. “We weren’t worried about last year. Everybody played their hearts out.”
Redick played the entire 40 minutes, and the wear and tear of his effort clearly played a role in the second half. His final basket came with 12 1/2 minutes left, a 3-pointer that gave Duke a 58-49 lead.
Later, he barely hit the rim with a couple of shots.
“I’m ready to go play another 40 minutes right now,” Redick quipped. “Seriously, I’ll probably wake up and need to ice down my entire body, but I felt fine out there. I wasn’t tired.”
Ewing was there to bail him out. In a 3-minute span late in the second half, he made a 3, drove down the lane for a pull-up jumper and added a layup after a nifty screen from Shavlik Randolph.
“There were a lot of good players out on that court, but he was the most mature player out there,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Ewing. “He had the look of a champion out on the court. J.J. was great, don’t get me wrong, but Daniel was handling it and he was absolutely great.”
The effort was enough to keep the inspired Spartans at bay. Davis sandwiched two baskets in close around an alley-oop dunk by Shannon Brown, and Michigan State was with 71-69.
Another layup by Davis later cut the margin to one, but Sean Dockery made an off-balance jumper—his only basket of the game—to make it 75-72, and Duke held on.
“I have no qualms about the way we played,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “We just couldn’t get one big shot to fall or make one defensive stand or make a couple of free throws, and that was the difference.”