Michigan State gave Duke everything it could handle on Sunday, but the No. 2 seed Blue Devils survived for an 85-76 victory over the No. 7 seed Spartans to advance to the Sweet 16. The outcome gave Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski his 1,200th victory and prolonged his career for at least one more game he prepares to retire at the end of the season.
With the win, Krzyzewski will close his career with an all-time record of 13-3 against Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. But nothing came easy about Coach K's final victory against the Spartans. Michigan State entered as one of the nation's top 3-point shooting teams in terms of percentage at 37.4%, but it had not been particularly reliant on the outside shot, attempting just 19.2 per game. Against Duke, Michigan State hit 11 of 22 from deep and went blow for blow with a Blue Devils team that shot 57.1% from the floor while dominating the interior.
Duke's top outside threat, freshman wing AJ Griffin, left the game with an ankle injury at the 8:32 mark and did not return. In his absence, the Blue Devils got a major lift from sophomore guard Jeremy Roach in the second half. After going 0 for 3 from the floor in the first half, Roach scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half to lead the Blue Devils. His 3-pointer with 1:16 left gave the Blue Devils a 78-74 lead.
Duke will play either Notre Dame or Texas Tech in the Sweet 16 next week. Here are the takeaways from Sunday's second-round thriller between the Blue Devils and Spartans.
As Krzyzewski put it to Tracy Wolfson during his postgame interview on CBS, "I'm an Army guy, but it looked like our ship was sinking."
Michigan State took its first lead since early in the first half with a Tyson Walker 3-pointer at the 5:24 mark. The Spartans then extended their lead to 70-65 just 14 seconds later with a pair of Marcus Bingham Jr. free throws, but Duke outscored Michigan State 20-6 the rest of the way as a young team full of players making their first NCAA Tournament appearances came up clutch when it mattered most. None were bigger than Roach. Beyond the critical 3-pointer with 1:16 left, he also made a key bucket with 4:17 remaining that cut MSU's lead to 70-69.
Roach was a five-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting class with the hype of a potential one-and-done prospect. The 6-1 Leesburg, Virginia, native has been more of a role player for Duke over the past two seasons, though. In fact, he came off the bench for nine straight games entering the NCAA Tournament before re-entering the starting lineup for Duke's first-round victory over Cal State Fullerton.
He showed Sunday that he's not just a starting-caliber player for Duke -- he can be a star when his team needs him most.
Griffin and Keels go down
Attention for Duke will now turn to the health of Griffin moving forward. The five-star freshman wing has played a key role in the team's offensive renaissance this season. He is a 45% 3-point shooter and quality defender who helps the Blue Devils create floor spacing.
Duke survived without him in the final 8:24 against Michigan State. If there are any long-term repercussions for his injury, it could be a major blow. though. Krzyzewski employed just a seven-man rotation on Sunday as senior wing Joey Baker did not play. Shortly after Griffin left, fellow freshman Trevor Keels landed on his elbow after rising to contest a shot at the rim. It looked like a painful injury, but Keels stayed in and proceeded to score six more points. Hopefully that's a sign that the injury was nothing serious.
Michigan State's end
The Spartans lost seven of their final 10 games entering the postseason after a 17-4 (8-2 Big Ten) start. For Izzo, who has a reputation of getting teams to play their best late in the season, it was a reversal of the usual season arc. But after notching a pair of wins in the Big Ten Tournament and then outlasting No. 10 seed Davidson in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, there's nothing for this team to hang its head about.
Michigan State responded to everything Duke threw at it on Sunday, and was in the game late with a chance to win. Ultimately, defense did the Spartans in as they simply weren't able to get enough stops. This won't go down as Izzo's finest team, but it was better than last year's squad that finished 15-13 with a loss in the First Four.