Duke basketball realizes new philosophy in victory over Michigan State

Duke basketball forward Kyle Filipowski (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Kyle Filipowski (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball closed out a tough victory over Michigan State. 

The Duke basketball team moved to 8-5 all-time in the Champions Classic with a convincing win over an incredibly tough Michigan State team.

The Spartans opening up the game with a 3-pointer after going 2-for-31 in its first two games was a tough omen for the Blue Devils to start the game, and it iswas admittedly an ugly start to what is usually the premiere basketball showcase of the year.

Duke finished the first half with 10 turnovers on 45-percent shooting and 25-percent from 3-point range.

Michigan State was not much better with nine turnovers on just 29-percent shooting, making 2-of-13 from 3-point range.

It seems Jon Scheyer and the coaching staff were listening to fan’s complaints as Sean Stewart was the first off the bench and gave Duke quality minutes. He is a difference maker on the defensive end, specifically guarding ball screens, as he is Duke’s quickest big and can cover so much ground, It allows him to hard hedge and return to his man with ease.

Duke’s offense continued to look off in the first half, and the guards continued to look out of sync and turned it over in a variety of ways. They got two feet in the paint at a decent clip but did not make the right play for the first 15 minutes of the half.

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It wasn’t until Jeremy Roach got downhill and kicked it to Tyrese Proctor for a 3-pointer that it started to come together. Immediately following that possession, Mark Mitchell made a strong drive to the rim and finished strong over the Michigan State defense for a conventional 3-point play.

The Spartans and Tom Izzo came prepared, as to be expected, as their defensive scheme blew up most of Duke’s initial actions forcing the Blue Devils to rely on making plays off the dribble.

Duke was able to pull away and take an 11-point lead into halftime mostly because they shot 11-14 from the free throw line.

Jay Williams made a great observation at halftime regarding Duke’s screen setting, the vast majority of them are ghost screens where the screen setter does not make full contact with the defensive player and slips out before the guard can truly take advantage of the screen. This turned out to affect Duke’s guards ability to get downhill and turn the corner as they had much less of an advantage because of the lack of contact on the screens.

Duke basketball gets clutch buckets down the stretch

Malik Hall and Michigan State came alive at the start of the second half and ate into Duke’s lead quickly.

The game then, quickly, became the Caleb Foster vs. Tyson Walker show.

Walker finished with 22 points catching fire from every part of the floor. While Proctor seemed to do the best job guarding him defensively, Duke did not have an answer for him.

However, Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Foster either.

Foster finished with 18 points on 6-7 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the second half, and made two incredibly clutch shots to all but ice the game.

Kyle Filipowski is going to be this team’s clear leader when it comes to scoring and rebounding but most importantly, toughness. He brings a level of chippiness that Duke desperately needs and he needs to continue to lean into.

While Duke fans are looking for consistency from each player, the expectations must be for just a couple of players to have great nights while those who you expected to perform have a slower type of night.

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This game is a perfect example, it was the coming out party for Caleb Foster while Jeremy Roach had a quiet night finishing with seven points on 2-of-5 shooting.

Overall, this felt like the most not-must-win, must-win Duke game of recent memory, particularly this early in the year.

Kudos to Scheyer and his staff for getting his team ready for a quick turnaround after the Arizona loss.

The Duke basketball team returns home for three straight games before its next big test on the road against Arkansas in late November.

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