Michigan State 78, Duke 68
AUSTIN, Texas (AP)—Tom Izzo demanded intensity from start to finish from his Michigan State players if they expected to beat Duke.
He got it, and the Spartans are moving on in the NCAA tournament.
Paul Davis led a bruising Michigan State squad with 20 points and 12 rebounds and the fifth-seeded Spartans knocked off top-seeded Duke with a 78-68 win Friday night in the Austin Regional semifinals.
The win sends the Spartans (25-6) to Sunday’s regional final against No. 2 seed Kentucky (28-5). The winner of that game goes to the Final Four.
The victory gave Izzo his first win over Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski in five meetings, including a loss in the 1999 Final Four, the year before the Spartans won the national title.
“I didn’t give them a Knute Rockne speech. I just told them to give me 40 intense minutes,” Izzo said. “I’m tickled with the win.
He was tickled but the action of the floor wasn’t exactly touchy-feely.
Davis and Duke forward Shelden Williams pounded each other under the basket. On the perimeter, the Spartans used waves of defenders to harass up Duke sharpshooter J.J. Redick, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year.
The result was a frustrated Redick having his third straight subpar game in the NCAA tournament as he desperately looked for open shots.
He found only a few, finishing with just 13 points. Only twice did he get to the free throw line where the 94 percent shooter might have done some damage.
“We had to use our depth to our advantage,” said Alan Anderson, who scored 17 points and was part of the rotation of players hounding Redick. “We were putting as much pressure on as possible.”
Like most of their season, the Blue Devils had their “Big Three” of Redick, Williams and Daniel Ewing but little else when it counted against the Spartans.
Williams scored 19 points but fouled out in the final 3 minutes when the outcome was still in doubt. The Blue Devils also committed 22 turnovers, which equaled their field goals.
“They took away our vision and we didn’t see open players,” Williams said. “It was like rushing the quarterback. With pressure you can’t see your receiver.”
The football analogy was appropriate considering the physical style the Spartans played. Michigan State outrebounded Duke 16-9 on the offensive glass and 38-33 overall.
“We’ve been in a lot of games like tonight, but we haven’t had many with 22 turnovers,” Redick said. “We weren’t very strong with the ball.”
Tied at 32 at halftime, the Spartans grabbed their first lead with an 8-0 run early in the second.
Anderson hit Michigan State’s first 3-pointer, and Shannon Brown followed it with a layup and another 3-pointer from the left wing that made it 40-36.
Anderson hit two more shots, and the Spartans appeared to have grabbed complete control when Ager soared over Redick on a fast break for spectacular dunk, then pounded his chest with his fist as he went back up the floor.
“We were so pumped up that it was hard to tell if there was a turning point,” Ager said.
Redick immediately answered the dunk with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and hit another that pulled Duke to 56-50 with 8:40 to play.
But it was only a flicker of a rally. Redick hit two free throws 30 seconds later and didn’t score another point.
Duke cut it to 66-63 when Ewing stripped the ball from Anderson and pulled up for a 3-pointer, but Williams fouled out 20 seconds later and Davis converted the three-point play.
“This was a game you just didn’t get tired in,” Davis said. “We just tried to wear them down. We did what we wanted to do.”
Trying to make a play on the other end, Redick dribbled into the lane and fired a pass between Ewing and Sean Dockery. Neither made a move to get it, and the ball sailed out of bounds.
“They applied good pressure,” said Ewing, who had 18 points but also committed six turnovers at point guard. “We weren’t poised.”
The loss ended Krzyzewski’s bid for an 11th Final Four. One more win on Sunday would make four trips to the Final Fours for Izzo … Michigan State hit five 3-pointers against Duke, tying their total for the first two NCAA tournament games … Michigan State thought it had a 34-32 at halftime when Anderson stole the ball from Dockery and went in for a layup with 0.2 seconds left. But the officials disallowed the points when it was determined the clock hadn’t started on Duke’s inbounds pass before the steal.