No. 8 Michigan State basketball (3-0) won convincingly over No. 6 Duke (1-1), 75-69, in the Champions Classic, which this time was played at Cameron Indoor Stadium over Chicago’s United Center. Head Coach Tom Izzo improves to 3-12 against the Blue Devils.
Sophomore guard Rocket Watts got the start over junior guard Foster Loyer. He and the Spartans started slow, as MSU recorded a quick five fouls. Watts finished with 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting. Duke forward Matthew Hurt had 21 points to lead Duke.
"The first half I felt like I was out of control, and the coaches were getting on me and I couldn't keep my head on at that time," Watts said. "The second half I came out playing aggressive and took care of the ball and taking what they were giving me."
Duke extended its early lead to as large as 13-3. Loyer took two consecutive charges to break Duke’s surge, and junior guard Aaron Henry hit a euro step and floater on consecutive trips to cut the lead to 13-7, but MSU’s shooting 1-for-8 from three to start allowed Duke to control the early stretches of the first half.
"All players and all the teams get hit, but it's how you respond and how you sustain yourself in the fight," Henry said. "And I felt like we did a good job of that."
Then MSU went on a run of its own. Sophomore forward Julius Marble, in a career game, recorded 12 points, as he combined with fellow sophomore and roommate Malik Hall for 14 points in the half. Marble hit a pair of free throws and Hall followed with a slam in the midst of a 12-0 MSU run. Hall finished with a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double.
"That's one of my best friends on the team, roommates too," Marble said. "So, it was good to go out there and play with your roommate and it's even better to play good with your roommate and then come out with the win."
Marble showed a nice spin move and kiss of the glass to give MSU is first lead at 31-29.
MSU took a 37-33 lead into half.
Marble continued his breakout night into the latter 20. After the Spartans ripped off a 16-5 run to start the half, Marble finished an emphatic slam to reach a career high and extend the lead to 58-43. He finished 5-for-5 from the field.
Redshirt junior forward Joey Hauser recorded his second consecutive double-double with 11 points on 10 rebounds.
Junior forward Gabe Brown struggled from the outside especially, going 0-for-3 from beyond the arc on 0-for-4 shooting.
MSU clung to a 10-point difference in the waning minutes, as garbage time fouls allowed Duke to cut into the lead, but hung on for the victory at Cameron Indoor.
MSU comes home to face Detroit at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4.
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