CHICAGO — Following MSU's 88-81 loss, the Spartans made it clear, they lost this game themselves.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times, we hurt ourselves,” freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. said. “I think most of the mistakes that cost us are are self-inflicted.”
Those mistakes Jackson spoke of stick out in the stats, MSU was outrebounded 46-34 and 25-11 on the offensive glass. Couple that with 17 turnovers, which Duke was able to convert for 19 points and the Spartans' struggles were clear.
“They key before the game take care of the ball we just made silly mistakes towards the end of the stretch, and we can’t do that,” freshman Nick Ward said. “It’s going to cost us.”
One of those turnovers came immediately after a Grayson Allen 3-pointer and led to an easy two points for Duke, giving them a nine point lead with 50 seconds left. And from there, the game was out of reach. Allen led Duke with 37 points and made seven 3-pointers in the process.
“He made some good shots,” Ward said of Allen. “But we really lost this game.”
Ward said he knows this was a winnable game for MSU.
“We should have won this,” Ward said. “But, you know, we made silly mistakes down the stretch and it cost us the game, it was really our fault. There was nothing that they did spectacular.”
Ward said after the game he would have thought he was being lied to if you would have told him that MSU would be outrebounded by 14 on the boards.
“It won’t happen again though, I’ll say that,” Ward said.
Head coach Tom Izzo echoed Wards shock at the rebound margin.
“Never in a million years would I have thought that we would be outrebounded like that,” Izzo said. “To hold them to 39 percent, they were 30 percent in the first half, 27 percent from the three, and the only way they scored was on the missed shot for awhile.”
Duke was able to get 17 points off of offensive rebounds.
During halftime, sophomore Miles Bridges said they knew that they needed to step their rebounding up.
“Get rebounds because we were getting killed on the rebounds and that’s unacceptable for us for a team with that size,” Bridges said. “That’s what we got to get better at defensively.”
Despite all the “silly mistakes” MSU made, Izzo still was glad they play teams like Duke early in the year.
“If we would have won it I wouldn’t have felt any different than if we would have lost it,” Izzo said. “This is about building a team, this is about getting better every day.”
Izzo said games like this are all about learning.
“This is about learning where your warts are,” Izzo said. “I’m going to go home and I’m going to have a book full of warts.”
Despite not playing up to standard, Izzo said he still expects his team to get better.
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“(We) did not play great, and it went down to the wire,” Izzo said. “And they’re going to get a lot better, we’re going to get a hell of a lot better I promise you.”
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