The Duke Blue Devils punched their ticket to the Elite Eight with a clutch victory over the Michigan State Spartans, 71-61, Friday night in Indianapolis.
As one would expect from the two teams coached by Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo, both squads got off to a good start in the national spotlight. Seth Curry came out on fire for the Blue Devils while the third-seeded Spartans rode a balanced scoring attack to go into halftime down just one to their second-seeded foes.
The second half would tell a much different story, however, as Duke began to pull away as the game wore on. Curry continued to shoot the ball lights out, but the Blue Devils were nearly perfect with the ball. In all, the Blue Devils only turned the ball over seven times.
The Spartans were outpaced in the second half, but never gave up. They got to as close as seven points in the last two minutes, but Curry's shooting was simply too much for the Spartans to overcome.
Adreian Payne put together an admirable performance for the Spartans in what could be his last game in East Lansing. He had 14 points with nine rebounds and two blocks.
However, it was Curry that stole the show with 29 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line and 6-of-9 performance from deep.
ESPN Stats & Info set the stage for a Sweet 16 matchup between two storied programs:
Duke enters tonight 7-2 all-time vs Michigan State.Michigan State enters 7-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament games in Indianapolis— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 30, 2013
It's safe to say that Seth Curry had folks buzzing about his big night on the Twittersphere:
Seth Curry. Looking like @stephencurry30 at MSG.— ESPN (@espn) March 30, 2013
Seth Curry channeling his big brother here, tonight. Can't miss. Actually can't even make the net wiggle.— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) March 30, 2013
Seth Curry is absolutely on fire. He has 23 of Duke's 41 points. Blue Devils lead the Spartans 41-38— BuzzFeed Sports (@BuzzFeedSports) March 30, 2013
C'mon Duke we got this. RT @swirsk054: Seth Curry is ballin— Luol Deng (@LuolDeng9) March 30, 2013
Kirk Herbstreit pointed out Duke's lockdown D that put the game away down the stretch in the second half.
Amazing defense by Duke...MSU hasn't scored a FG in nearly 14 minutes!!!— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) March 30, 2013
J.A. Adande recognized the Spartans' late-game push. However, it was too little too late.
There's another team from Michigan trying to make a big comeback tonight...Spartans within 7 of Duke with 2:06 left— J.A. Adande (@jadande) March 30, 2013
This was a big win over a quality opponent for the Blue Devils. Seth Curry placed his name in Duke lore for a long time with his individual performance.
Shooting well from beyond the arc is all about getting in rhythm and Duke showed that they are feelin' it.
They'll need to shoot lights out if they want to advance to the Final Four, as they'll take on the No. 1-seeded Louisville Cardinals next. Few teams have been able to score on the Cards' pressure defense.
Curry and Co. will once again have to put together an efficient performance if they want to keep the season alive.