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Men’s Basketball: MSU beats Duke to advance to the Final Four

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-Michigan State vs Duke Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

MSU 68 Duke 67

Well that was an OUTSTANDING game with an even better outcome. This recap will in no way do justice to this magical night and this incredible performance, but here goes.

MSU had to execute on a litany of basketball fundamentals to win this game, and they did what they needed to in almost every facet, and, ultimately, in just enough to win one of the biggest games in Izzo’s tenure.

MSU had to limit turnovers; they had seven for the game! MSU had to compete on the glass; they lost that battle, but not in too-crazy a margin (it wasn’t great, so Izzo will have something to complain about on film, but no egregious missed box-outs). MSU had to deny Duke transition points; they did that to GREAT effect: Duke had ZERO fast-break points. Wait screw this: here is a straight up list of all the awesome things MSU did:

  • 7 turnovers for the game
  • 15-0 in fast-break points
  • 24-9 in points off turnovers
  • only -4 in 2nd chance points (despite Duke getting 39.4% of available offensive rebounds - MSU was WAY more efficient in scoring off of the offensive glass)
  • Held the #1 and #2 NBA draft picks to a combined 45 points on 36 FGA (and 11 FTA) - these two combined to shoot 5-12 from 3 (42% vs. their season average of around 32% combined).
  • Cassius Winston was a volume shooter (23 FGA) but chipped in 20 points, 10 assists, 4 steals (!!!), and infinite amounts of composure. Winston dominated his match-up with Jones, just like he needed to (Jones had 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists).
  • Xavier Tillman played outstanding, Draymond-Green-level defense (and I mean NBA DPOY level) on Williamson, and scored 19 points (8-12 from the field, including a three point shot), pulled in 9 gritty rebounds (including 6 offensive boards). Oh yeah and probably threw down the dunk of the tournament so far for this MSU team.
  • Matt McQuaid opened the game with a tone-setting dunk, and played awesome defense on Reddish (who he outscored and kept in his pocket all game).
  • Nick Ward struggled from the field, but did MAKE 3 important field goals, and grabbed 5 big rebounds.
  • Aaron Henry had a quiet first half (bothered a bit by Reddish’s length) and, after “getting told that I just played the worst half of basketball I had played in weeks by Izz at half-time,” opened the half with monster dunk, played aggressive on offense, chipped in 4 big assists, and competed at a terrific level against Barrett - who he helped force into 7 turnovers!!!
  • Finally, (for individual shout-outs), Kenny Goins struggled for much of the night before hitting what might be one of the biggest shots in Izzo’s tenure at MSU. Zion blocked the first one, Kenny drove the dagger into Duke’s heart on the second one.

This team defies explanation. This experience defies explanation. This team is missing two and a half of its rotation players (I bet Nick Ward hits a lot of shots vs Texas Tech, who will REALLY struggle to defend him). This team does not have the two clear NBA first-round picks it had last year (and could have seriously used tonight - in the world where either or both of those guys is on this team - MSU probably wins by double digits). This team did not have an athleticism advantage over this Duke team. This team did not... does not... will not stop winning games.

MSU is back in the Final Four. MSU will wake up on Monday, take a look at the rest of the Final Four, take a look at the Texas Tech film, and smell blood.

This relentless, fearless team has work to do.

[forgive the audio/shoddy camera work; figured I would give you all a taste of what I captured on the floor after the game - I will do up a super-cut or something of these and all the other videos I got and include it in a write up soon - or someone else will!!!]

And one last video: