Duke-Michigan State: Kyrie Irving Leads Blue Devils Over Spartans

Brad FrankCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2010

DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates during their game against the Michigan State Spartans at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 1, 2010 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

A game after Duke senior Kyle Singler put up 30 points against Oregon in Portland, freshman Kyrie Irving stole his thunder.

Irving scored 31 points, setting his career high in the first half with 18, in a 84-79 win over the sixth-ranked Michigan State Spartans.

Irving has been the best player on the court against both of Duke's biggest opponents, Kansas State and Michigan State.

The freshman had 17 points and six assists along with a stellar defensive effort on Jacob Pullen in Duke's 14-point win over Kansas State last week.

In addition to Duke's season-high 31 points Wednesday, Irving recorded six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks, and converted 13 of 16 free throw attempts.

Irving, a two-time ACC freshman of the week, became the third freshman in Duke history to score at least 30 points in one game.

Duke led the Spartans 38-34 at halftime.

Heading into the locker room, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo told ESPN's Doris Burke that he liked the way his team was playing but that they couldn't afford to be committing silly turnovers.

The Spartans had committed 12 turnovers by halftime and tallied 20 for the game. Duke is forcing opponents into an average of 19.1 turnovers per game.

Michigan State cut its deficit to two points five minutes into the second half. After that point, however, Duke went on a 12-2 run with the help of four turnovers and two missed shots by Michigan State and an intentional foul which led to two Kyle Singler three-pointers in three possessions.

Duke was 2-9 from behind the three-point line in the first half, but hit five of its first six threes in the second half.

Duke's lead was cut to five points twice in final minute of the game, but prevailed to improve to 7-0 on the season.

Nolan Smith scored 17 points, Kyle Singler added 15 and Mason Plumlee posted 10 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.  

Michigan State out-shot Duke from the field and from behind the three-point arc. But the difference in the game was Duke's ability to get to the free throw line. The Spartans committed 25 fouls in the game, which led to 38 free attempts for Duke.

The Blue Devils converted 27 of those 38 attempts (71.1 percent), while Michigan State managed to shoot just 8-of-15 from the free throw line (53.3 percent). 

Duke plays Butler at 3:15 p.m. ET Saturday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. The Blue Devils topped the Bulldogs in the 2010 National Championship Game.

Michigan State falls to 5-2 on the season and hosts Bowling Green on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET.