Factor No. 3 in Duke basketball loss to MSU: Not bringing the toughness
As I mentioned earlier, the Blue Devils did a good job of being aggressive and establishing their style of play early in the first half. However, that did not last very long. About midway through the first half, the Spartans started to impose their will. They became the aggressor, forcing Duke to play how they wanted to play.
Michigan State slowed the game down, took Duke out of transition, and stopped fouling. This forced the Blue Devils to have to score in the halfcourt. As I previously mentioned, their lack of movement and go-to-scorers made it difficult for them to score in the halfcourt.
Michigan State was by far the more physically tough team. Their physicality on defense made things quite uncomfortable for Duke. The Blue Devils stopped attacking the basket, started settling for jump shots, and tried beating the MSU defenders one-on-one. This played right into the hands of the visiting team.
The Spartans were also tougher on the glass. They outrebounded Duke, 46-40, and their second-chance opportunities kept the Blue Devils from cutting into their lead. Duke did play hard, but the players have to learn how to compete and execute for an entire 40 minutes.