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The Blue Devils came out of the gate fast against 8th ranked Michigan State in the Champions Classic to the tune of a 13-3 lead. Duke played suffocating defense and hit well on the offensive end – the unfortunate part is that it only lasted 5 minutes before the bottom seemed to fallout. The Blue Devils missed 5 straight shots and MSU climbed back into the game. Duke was able to again build a lead at 23-15 but again the Blue Devils went stagnant offensively and Michigan State turned it up a notch on both ends. The Spartans turned an 8 point deficit to a 4 point halftime lead and really never looked back. The second half saw more of the same with the Blue Devils shooting 34.4% from the field and 28.6% from the 3 point line.

It was a miracle that Duke was able to stay within striking distance after going down by 16 points. Duke managed to get within 3 possessions despite Wendell Moore, DJ Steward and Joey Baker going a combined 0-19. The Blue Devils were also out rebounded by the Spartans 46 – 40. The few bright spots for the Blue Devils included the play of sophomore Matthew Hurt who went 6-14 for 21 points and added 13 rebounds, also the play of freshmen Jaemyn Brakefield who scored 11 points on 4-6 shooting in 15 minutes of play.

The issues the Blue Devils had were more on the offensive side of the ball where they, in addition to shooting a paltry 32.3% from the field, also had very little offensive fluidity. They looked like a team content to pass around the perimeter and shoot contested 3 pointers which didn’t end well for as team that, for 2 straight games, shot under 35%.

21 21 Matthew Hurt * 36 6-14 1-3 8-8 2-11 13 2 0 1 0 0 21
01 01 Jalen Johnson * 22 4-11 0-2 3-6 0-4 4 2 1 1 2 1 11
02 02 DJ Steward * 29 0-7 0-3 6-6 0-1 1 1 2 1 0 0 6
03 03 Jeremy Roach * 26 2-4 1-1 1-2 0-2 2 5 2 3 0 1 6
00 00 Wendell Moore Jr. * 30 0-9 0-6 4-4 1-2 3 2 2 3 0 1 4
05 05 Jaemyn Brakefield 15 4-6 1-3 2-4 3-1 4 1 1 0 0 0 11
14 14 Jordan Goldwire 26 4-7 2-2 0-0 1-4 5 4 1 2 0 2 10
13 13 Joey Baker 12 0-3 0-3 0-0 1-0 1 5 0 1 0 4 0
15 15 Mark Williams 4 0-1 0-0 0-0 1-2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
TM TM TEAM 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 2-2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 200 20-62 5-23 24-30 11-29 40 22 9 12 2 9 69


Opening statement

“That was a heck of a game, boy. For our guys to be in a game like that and have a chance to win the game and play with that level of intensity against a really superb Michigan State team. Tom [Izzo] always has outstanding teams, but this team is a very veteran team. Five of the kids that played tonight for us have never been in a game like that. It’s a learning experience to play at this level. I thought it was tough to score for either team. I thought [Rocket] Watts for them was a key player. I thought he played strong with the ball … obviously he scored 20 points, but when he’s playing like that, they’re at another level. I thought we battled the whole time. We did battle the whole time. The thing we did not do was finish. In a game that’s very physical … they sub talent and experience. When you do that, the level of intensity on the defensive end never wanes. It’s pretty much at a high level the whole time. For us, we’re not there yet and it can wane a little bit. I thought at the end of the half, we got a little fatigued and tired. At the start of the second half, we didn’t meet their level of intensity like we should have. But then we did and we put ourselves in a position to win. We missed shots right at the basket. Again, they’re not fouling … you have to play through a little bit of contact so when you’re around the basket, you can’t shoot the ball and you have to finish. There’s a difference between shooting and finishing. We did a couple shots where … if you just get a little contact, it throws your shot off. I’m not saying we were fouled. In a game like this, it was very physical and you have to play through it. The only way to learn that is to play in these games. Overall, I thought we made a huge jump from our first game and we have to keep getting better. I’m not disappointed with my team. They came to play and to win, but we didn’t. We lost to a really, really good team.”


On getting the right shots:

“You never get all the shots you want to get. When you get them around the bucket on drives or in the post, you either want one of three things. You want to score, you want to get fouled or you want to score and get fouled. We didn’t get fouled. When you are empty on a number of those, that’s a little deflating but it’s also good for the other team. They know we had a chance and we didn’t take advantage of it. We had some open looks in the second half that our guys just have to knock down most of the time but we didn’t do it today. I’m not sure either team got all the shots they would like because both teams played really hard defensively. It was tough to get shots.”


On Wendell Moore moving on to the next game:

“That’s what he has to do. The mantra of a really good competitor and a winner is next play. Whether something really good has happened for you or not. He did not have a good scoring night tonight. It just has to be next play. We have confidence in him. Part of that has to do with how well they defended him. We had three kids that were 0-for-19. Joey [Baker] had a couple shots. You had three guys that were really good players. I’m not blaming them. They were 0-for-19 and we have a chance.”


On how Michigan State ended the first half:

“They are able to play at a consistently high level because of their experience and depth better than we are right now. We were playing better than the score for the first 15 minutes and there wasn’t a separation that our intensity had created. That’s the first time we’ve played a game like that. It’s not the first time those guys have ever played a game like that, so they took advantage of that. Again, it wasn’t lack of effort or anything. We just have to get accustomed to a 10-round fight. You can’t fight seven rounds. You have to learn to fight the whole 10 rounds.”


On playing a team like Michigan State this early in the season:

“I think it really helps us immensely. The thing about this year is no game is guaranteed to anybody. We’re really pleased that we were able to make the arrangement with Michigan State to play this game. It worked … I think both teams benefit from it. Obviously, you would like to win it, but we just have to keep learning. I have 11 guys and seven of them are new. Two of them didn’t play today, but seven guys have never been in a game like this. Every one of their guys have been in a game like this. Is it beneficial to us? Yes, definitely. It would be more if we won, but hopefully that will come. That’s what our goal is.”


“We had a lot of good shots – they just didn’t fall. Credit to Michigan State. They’re a great team and really well-coached. But I think some of it was on us, but you have to give credit Michigan State and how they played well tonight.”


When asked how not having fans in Cameron Indoor Stadium affected Duke’s ability to finish off a second-half run tonight:

“Our team, our bench, coming into this season, we know that we had to create our own energy. On Saturday [against Coppin State] it wasn’t that [good], but coming in here [tonight] with energy, the bench, on the court. We know we’re not going to have fans this year, so we’re going to just try to do that on the court.”


On Duke’s reducing its turnovers tonight as compared to the previous game versus Coppin State:

“Just trying to make the easy play, the simple play. Some of our passes the last game, we were just trying to make the home-run-play. [Tonight,] just keeping it simple and just talking and communicating and getting movement off the ball. That’s a positive that we did tonight and hopefully we can keep improving on it.” “Half our team are freshmen. Just trying to live the ride with them because it’s a long season hopefully. Just trying to get their backs and just know that we have to come to work every day and just try to improve and be better than we were yesterday.”




On the challenge of playing against a physical team like Michigan State:

“They’re an older, veteran team. They play really physical defense, and we’ve got a lot of freshmen and it’s their first time playing against something like that. I just think that [Michigan State] had a lot of guys that were mature tonight, and they came out and they played well. I think we also played well but a couple of things didn’t go our way. We were still in the game.”


When asked about what happened when Michigan State grew its lead midway through the second half after a Duke run:

“We were a little stagnant on offense and we weren’t really moving as much, it’s just a matter of working together to get the best shot we want. I just think we got a little stagnant. We weren’t getting stops and kind of missing rebounds. I think it’s just a team effort just to be better, get the right shots, and want to get stops.”


When asked what guidance and veteran advice he can offer to the Duke freshmen after a loss like this:

“It’s game two. It’s a long season. We’re not going to be perfect this early. Just know that we have more games to play, and you’ll get another chance, another opportunity. Just keep their heads up, come back [to practice], let’s put in the work, and we’ll be good.”


On what Duke needs to do to improve on tonight’s performance:

“I think that we’ve got to come out and want it. It’s just a matter of wanting it and wanting to get stops, everybody being hungry and talking, a bunch of things. We’ve just got to be better. Obviously playing with no fans is different, so we’ve just got to create our own energy, everybody talking. We need every single person on the team. I think it’s just a matter of wanting to do it, and I’ll think we’ll be better at it.”


Opening statement:

“We came down here to win a game and we talked about it, I think I’ve done a poor job over the years. It seems like I either get too hyped for the game or I give them too much credit. I thought we were a good team that could beat them. I thought they had a good team but I thought our defense and our depth [was key] and it turned out that way; although, early we were so poor defensively and we fouled every time they came down but later on, give Josh (Langford) a little credit and Aaron (Henry) a lot of credit. We put Aaron at the point some and he just did a hell of a job. He did miss some easy shots but boy, we rode him like a horse. I mean he had to play the defensive end [and] he had to play the offensive end. Him and I were talking on the way up here, you know you’re playing the point, everybody wants to play the point until you play it and you don’t realize how hard it was on Cassius (Winston) or Rocket (Watts). We had some other heroes too. Foster Loyer taking three charges and gets five rebounds. Malik Hall was dynamite tonight, you know, and Julius Marble who hardly even played last game. I told our guys, it’s going to be that way once in a while. It’s going to be certain match-ups that certain guys are going to be able to play. They had some athletic and some long shooting bigs so it hurt Thomas Kithier and Marcus Bingham a little bit more, but thank god we had some depth and we just kept running our people at them. We didn’t push the ball like I wanted. We didn’t handle the situation at the end like I wanted but the good thing is, that’ll be for tomorrow in the film session. Tonight I’m going to smile and enjoy it because I haven’t done a very good job against Duke and still haven’t if you talk about a rivalry. You know, a rivalry is going to be a rivalry when both teams are winning games and it’s been one-sided, so this is one step in the right direction.”


On overcoming the poor start:

“I was ticked off early. We did not defend and we got punched in the mouth like last year. We said we were going to do the punching and they did it again to us. That, I was very disappointed in. Joshua Langford did a pretty good job in those huddles and Aaron Henry. We just said we’ve got to defend without fouling. I think they had eight free throws in the first couple of minutes, they had 17 in the first half. They made 14 of them, we made four. That’s a 10-point difference right there. It’s hard to be up when you’re 10 down in the free-throw situation. So I think we did a better job of that and then we took care of the ball a little bit. Then, Aaron went on a little run there. Foster hit a big shot. Julius Marble man, he hit that corner jumper then he did some nice things [like] that dunk late. We got a lot of play out of a lot of guys, you know. Gabe Brown played pretty good defensively but he just didn’t make a shot tonight. I know what Gabe can do. I’m not worried about him. I got faith in him. I think we just got back to defending, rebounding and running, and that’s kind of what our culture is. I don’t know if we forgot about it, or maybe give Duke credit too. That’s a very good team we beat and they have a lot of really, really good guards. The (Jalen) Johnson kid is really good. He got in foul trouble but our kid (Joey) Hauser got in foul trouble so that was kind of a wash.


On playing in Cameron without fans:

“The truth of the matter is, it is different but once the game starts, you get caught up in the game and you kind of don’t realize the crowd. Now at the end when they were coming back, banking in threes and stuff, I’m sure the Crazies could have made it even crazier but I think the Izzone could make it crazy at our place too so we’re losing out some. I know one thing; I’m not going to put this as an asterisk. Fans or no fans, it was a good win for us against a good team, a great program and a very, very well coached team.”