Curry gets hot, helps Duke eliminate Michigan State

Cliff Brunt, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- It was one of those nights for Seth Curry.
The Duke guard scored 29 points and made 6-of-9 3-pointers to help the second-seeded Blue Devils defeat No. 3 seed Michigan State 71-61 on Friday night in a Midwest Regional semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I feel like every time I take a shot it's going to go down, and nothing really felt different tonight," Curry said.
Michigan State, a team that prides itself on defense, couldn't stop him.
"He just made shots," Michigan State guard Keith Appling said. "Simple as that. The plays that they ran for him were just right, and he came up hard and just knocked the shots down. That made it tough for us for the whole game."
The Blue Devils supported Curry's shooting with solid defense and gritty play. Michigan State made just 13-of-31 shots inside the 3-point line.
"Everybody was talking about how physical they were, how tough they were and all that stuff," Duke's Mason Plumlee said. "But we took that challenge. Our big guys from the jump were more physical down low. Our defense was great on their bigs all night. We didn't give them too many easy layups, dunks and things like that. I think they felt our big men all night."
Rasheed Sulaimon scored 16 points and Plumlee added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Blue Devils (30-5), who will play No. 1 seed Louisville in the regional final Sunday. The Cardinals defeated Oregon 77-69 earlier Friday night.
Appling scored 16 points, Adreian Payne had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Derrick Nix added nine points and nine rebounds for Michigan State (27-9),
The game was hyped as a matchup of coaching legends. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski got the better of Michigan State's Tom Izzo, and now he'll face another legend, Louisville's Rick Pitino.
Krzyzewski knows what he's getting into against the tournament's No. 1 overall seed.
"They've been playing the best basketball in the country," Krzyzewski said. "I love their two guards (Russ Smith and Peyton Siva). I think they're great kids and they're dynamic. They're dynamic. Those two kids are dynamic."
A 3-pointer by Curry gave the Blue Devils a 41-38 lead early in the second half. A layup and a jumper by Plumlee pushed Duke's lead to seven points, then Curry scored again to make it 47-38.
Payne responded by making three free throws after being fouled on a shot. On Michigan State's next possession, it appeared Appling might have scored on a drive, but he was called for an offensive foul.
Duke finally started to gain some breathing room midway through the second half. Ryan Kelly scored from close range, was fouled and converted a three-point play. Shortly thereafter, Sulaimon scored on a fast break layup to bump Duke's lead to 56-46.
Duke led 63-53 before Michigan State scored on a fast break layup by Travis Trice. He was fouled on the shot and made the free throw with 2:06 left to cut Duke's lead to seven. But the Spartans got no closer.
Early in the game, Nix was fouled hard by Duke's Tyler Thornton, and Thornton was called for a flagrant foul. Nix made the first of two free throws, then Denzel Valentine scored to give the Spartans a 12-10 lead.
A 3-pointer by Curry gave Duke a 20-18 lead midway through the first half.
After a drought by both teams that lasted more than two minutes, Kelly made a jumper. Then a steal by Thornton led to a 3-pointer by Curry that gave the Blue Devils a 25-18 lead.
Gary Harris' drive and layup cut Duke's lead to 30-26. A powerful left-handed dunk by Payne trimmed Duke's advantage to 32-28, and a 3-pointer by Payne from the left corner made it 32-31.
Valentine's halfcourt heave bounced off the back of the rim at the buzzer, and the Blue Devils had a one-point lead at halftime.
Michigan State couldn't get it together in the second half.
"A very disappointing loss," Izzo said. "I felt like we never got on track. We were in foul trouble the whole game and it seemed like that wasn't going to end."
Krzyzewski said he was proud of his team for the way it handled Michigan State's aggressive play.
"I'm glad it's not a seven-game series because I'm not sure we would continue to do it, but we were able to do it tonight."
NOTES: This is the fourth regional Indianapolis has hosted. Indianapolis also hosted in 1940, 1979 and 2009. ... Krzyzewski and Izzo have combined for 17 Final Four appearances. ... Duke won its national championship in 2010 in Indianapolis, defeating the hometown Butler Bulldogs in the final. ... Michigan State won the 2009 Midwest Regional at Lucas Oil Stadium. ... Krzyzewski and Izzo rank first and second in consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with 18 and 16, respectively. ... Three Michigan State players -- Harris, Branden Dawson and Russell Byrd -- are from Indiana. Duke's Mason and Marshall Plumlee also are from Indiana.

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