The Important Number in Coach Izzo's 1-8 record vs. Coach K is the "1"
So we all know by now that our Coach Izzo has a record of only 1-8 vs. Coach K, but, fans of Sparta, let's focus on the positive—the "1" of the 1-8 record.
Something that may give us Spartan fan hope is that the "1" was also in a tournament game, the Sweet 16, and the win came after Coach Izzo and the Spartans had already played Duke earlier that season and lost.
In the 2004-2005 season, the Spartans and Duke squared off in each of the teams' fourth games of the season and the Spartans traveled down to North Carolina to take on the J.J. Redick-led Dukies in front of the "Cameron Crazies."
Redick scored 21 points in the first half, on his way to a 29-point game, and Duke's Daniel Ewing took over in the second half on the way to his own 29-point game. The game was intense and physical as both Alan Anderson and Ewing were assessed technical fouls after exchanging elbows and Maurice Ager also drew a technical, intentional foul, along with the hate of the "Crazies," when he took out Redick on a lay-up attempt.
Though MSU made a late comeback, and cut the Duke lead to one point at 73-72, Duke got an unexpected basket from guard Sean Dockery, (his only basket of the game), and Duke held on from there for an 81-74 win over MSU.
And then in the rematch...
Michigan State had tried to rough up Redick in Game 1 and in Game 2 the Spartans were focused on eliminating Redick altogether whether mentally, physically, or by denying him the ball.
Redick wasn't able to the get a shot off until there was 10:17 left in the second half and Redick was held to only 4 of 14 from the field and only 13 points. The talented Spartans with Alan Anderson, Paul Davis, Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, Chris Hill, Kelvin Torbert, and Drew Neitzel sent waves of fresh bodies at Duke, pressuring them full court, and forced the Blue Devils in 22 turnovers which resulted in 29 points. The turnovers and also allowed the Spartans to get out and run with 14 fast break points. Paul Davis led the way for the Spartans with a game of 20 points and 12 rebounds, including 7 offensive boards, and the exclamation mark for the fired up and vengeful Spartans was a Maurice Ager high-flying, then chest-pounding, slam dunk over Redick on a fastbreak feed from Alan Anderson.
As Coach Izzo reminded his guys before the game, no modern MSU team had ever beaten Duke and the Spartans responded in their Sweet 16 victory. The win over Duke led to the well-known-to-Spartan fans double-overtime win over Kentucky, (and wouldn't that be nice if history repeats itself in the order of the vanquished but first things first), which was highlighted by the 5-minute review of Kentucky's Patrick Sparks desperation three-pointer-make to force the first OT...(and you remember Spartan fans...was Spark's white and blue sneaker toe on the line? and...rewind...and rewind...and again).
So Spartan Fans, Think Positive! And the Reason for Hope...
So, the obvious similarity between that 2004-2005 win over Duke and our Final Four match-up with Duke this time is that it's the second time MSU has played the Dukies this season.
Coach Izzo and his staff are one of the best at making adjustments to their game plan, and creating "some wrinkles" after they have seen a team--their strengths and their weaknesses--before. Obviously, something will have to be done about Jahlil Okafor, who tore up the Spartan bigs early, the consistent senior guard Quinn Cook who scored 19 points last time out, freshman guard Tyus Jones who turned on his scoring powers when needed, and freshman Justise Winslow, who scored 15 points in the first game against the Spartans and who has been a true difference-maker on Duke's tournament run. Are all highly talented, so it will be interesting to see who MSU really tries to clamp down on this time around like they did with J.J. Redick ten years ago.
So, and again, it's Round 2 Spartan fans. Let's have some hope!
And to get really fired up, enjoy the Highlights of MSU's Sweet 16 win over Duke back in 2005.