Duke 36 – 45 — 81
Michigan State 25 – 36 — 61
Duke apparently means business.
The Blue Devils took control early and easily handled Michigan State in Saturday’s Final Four to advance to the National Championship.
The Spartans started hot, but Duke clamped down on defense and kept MSU at a double-digit deficit for all of the second half.
Justice Winslow scored 19 points and Jahlil Okafor added 18 as Duke improved to 34-4. The Blue Devils defeated the Spartans for the second time this season. They beat MSU 81-71 in November.
Denzel Valentine led the Spartans (27-12) with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Click here for the final boxscore.
Denzel Valentine Hit 3 3-Pointers to Give Michigan State the Early Lead
Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine started hot, hitting 3 of 3 3-pointers to give the Spartans a 14-6 lead at the first official time out with 15:44 left in the first half.
Duke Used a 7-0 Run to Cut Into MSU’s Lead
After Denzel Valentine hit 3 of Michigan State’s 4 early 3-pointers to give the Spartans a 14-6 lead, Duke got it together defensively and used a 7-0 run to make the score 14-13 with under 12 minutes left in the first half.
Duke Used a 6-0 Run to Grab an 8-Point Lead
After Brandon Dawson’s basket made it a 22-20 with 6:04 remaining in the first half, the Blue Devils used a 6-0 run to make it 28-20 with 4:33 left. A Tyus Jones layup forced Tom Izzo to call a timeout.
Duke Took Its First Lead With Just Under 10 Minutes Left in the First Half
Jahlil Okafor’s dunk with about 9:30 left in the first half gave Duke its first lead. After beginning the game with 4 3-pointers, Michigan State went cold offensively.
Michigan State Shot Just 29 Percent in the First Half
Michigan State made just 8 of 27 shots (29.6 percent) from the field in the first half, while Duke made 45.8 percent of its shots (11 of 24). The Spartans made 4 of 9 3s and 5 of 7 free throws. The Blue Devils were 2 for 6 from 3-point land and 12 of 16 from the line.
MSU didn’t make a field goal over the final 6:04 of the first half.
Duke Started Hot in the Second Half to Take a 17-Point Lead
Duke came out hitting in the second half, outscoring Michigan State 12-6 in the first 5 minutes to take a 48-31 lead.
Duke Had Just 5 Turnovers With 12 Minutes Left
With 11:57 remaining in the game, Duke had just 5 turnovers, while Michigan State had 12 TOs. The Blue Devils had 7 steals compared to only 1 for the Spartans.
With 7:30 Left, Duke Held a 65-48 Lead
Both teams began shooting well with under 10 minutes remaining. When it looked like Michigan State was beginning to chip away at Duke’s lead, the Blue Devils would respond with a basket of their own.
Duke Kept a 13-Point Advantage With Under 4 Minutes Remaining
Duke held a double-digit lead for the entire second half and led 67-54 with 3:37 left in the game.
Leading Scorers & Stats
Denzel Valentine – 21 points, 10 rebounds
Travis Trice – 14 points, 4 assists
Branden Dawson – 12 points, 7 rebounds
Justice Winslow – 16 points, 8 rebounds
Jahlil Okafor – 18 points, 4 rebounds
Quinn Cook – 13 points
Tyus Jones – 9 points
Grayson Allen – 9 points
Matt Jones – 5 points
Preview: Duke & Michigan State Ready to Face Off in the Final Four
Many things have changed since November 18.
That night, then-No. 4 Duke handed then-No. 18 Michigan State an 81-71 defeat.
The Blue Devils (33-4) went on to have another stellar season, going 15-3 in ACC play. The Spartans took a different route, finishing the regular season with an uncharacteristic 11 losses.
But when the NCAA Tournament comes around and the games really matter, Tom Izzo’s MSU squad always shows up. Getting the No. 7 seed in the East region, the Spartans knocked off No. 2 Virginia, No. 3 Oklahoma and No. Louisville to secure their first Final Four since 2010.
Duke was rarely challenged in its run to the National Semifinals, winning four games by an average of 17 points per contest.
The teams meet Saturday night at 6:09 p.m. Eastern.
Kentucky and Wisconsin play in the second Final Four game.
Keep it here for live game updates.