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NCAA Tournament: Michigan State battles hard, but falls 85-76 against Duke

Michigan State v Duke Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The No. 7-seeded Michigan State Spartans gave everything the team had against the No. 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils, but came up short in the final moments. MSU fell 85-76, ending the season in the Round of 32 matchup.

Despite huge performances from Michigan State’s seniors, with three total players hitting double figures in scoring, the Spartans couldn’t find enough offense in the final minutes to close out the game. Senior Gabe Brown led MSU with 18 points, while senior Marcus Bingham Jr. notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Bingham also led the team in blocks (three) and steals (two).

Junior Tyson Walker added 13 points to round out scorers in double figures. As a team, MSU went 11-for-22 from three-point range, led by Brown’s 4-for-6 shooting. A number of Spartans fell just shy of double figures, with freshman Max Christie adding nine points and sophomore A.J. Hoggard scoring eight. Bingham (4-for-4), Hoggard (2-for-2), and redshirt senior Joey Hauser (2-for-2) all shot 100 percent from the free-throw line as well.

While Duke won the overall rebound battle, Michigan State won the offensive glass, holding a 12-10 advantage that set up 15 second-chance points. The Spartans ended the game with 28 points in the paint, which was woefully lopsided to Duke’s 44. MSU committed just seven turnovers in the game, giving up only nine points to the Blue Devils, but some of those turnovers came in the crucial closing moments of the game.

Duke freshman Paolo Banchero led all scorers with 19 points. Five Blue Devils finished the game with double-digits in scoring.

Michigan State jumped out with the early lead in the game, scoring first and then pushing its lead out to five points on a three-pointer by Hauser at the 17:34 mark. Duke battled back and managed to tie it up at 11 with 14:43 left in the half, but MSU responded with a Brown three-pointer to retake the lead.

Despite leading for much of the first half, Michigan State was unable to hold onto it after Banchero’s jumper with 10:47 gave Duke its first lead of the game at 17-16. Duke pushed its lead out to seven points three different times, but MSU never let the game get away from it.

Finally, with 1:38 remaining in the first half, Brown hit a three-pointer to tie it up at 33, and then Hoggard hit a jumper with 1:02 remaining to again tie it at 35. Duke ended on a 4-0 run with back-to-back dunks to send the teams into the locker room with the Blue Devils leading 39-35.

Duke carried over its momentum from late in the first half to open up a nine-point lead less than a minute into the second half. The Blue Devils continued to maintain the lead, but the Spartans never let it get away, always cutting back into it to prevent a double-digit deficit.

Finally, a Brown fast break cut Duke’s lead to just two points, 63-61, with 8:24 remaining in the game. The two teams traded layups before Hoggard tied it up at 65 with 6:09 remaining off of a pair of free throws. Then, for the first time since the midway point of the first half, Michigan State seized back the lead thanks to Walker’s three-pointer embedded below.

Hope was again alive for Michigan State fans, as the momentum built up to a five-point lead for the Spartans with 5:10 remaining on a pair of free throws by Bingham. Duke refused to go quietly, though, and tied it back up at 72 with 3:24 remaining thanks to a three-pointer by Trevor Keels, his only make from behind the three-point arc in the game.

Hoggard responded with a layup to give Michigan State its final lead of the game, up 74-72 with 2:51 remaining. From there, Duke mounted an 8-0 run over the next 1:45 of game action and finished with a 13-2 run over the final 2:44 of game action. The Blue Devils also went 5-for-5 from the field to close out the game.

The score went final at Duke 85, Michigan State 76. Michigan State finishes the season 23-13 and will return to East Lansing while Duke advances to the Sweet 16.

Thanks for another season everyone, and we here at The Only Colors will keep you informed of updates with the program while we all get ready for another season next fall.