For the first five minutes Saturday night, it looked like Michigan State was a team of destiny. The Spartans came out on fire from three-point range, hitting their first four attempts.
After that it was all Duke.
The Michigan State Spartans’ unlikely run ended at the hands of the Blue Devils and an 81-61 beatdown.
“We got beat,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said after the game, “It wasn’t one of our better games.”
MSU jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the first four minutes of the game led by the hot outside shooting. Denzel Valentine was perfect on his first three shots.
Valentine was asked after the game if his hot start affected his approach later in the game. Izzo cracked a wry smile.
“I had some great looks in the beginning of the game,” Valentine said. “They did a good job of making adjustments to take me out.”
After that, Duke outscored the Spartans in the final 26 minutes 30-11.
The second half was much of the same, as Duke’s size at the guard position gave Michigan State problems all night.
MSU made a run midway through the second half, scoring seven straight to pull within 13 before two questionable calls on Branden Dawson sent him to the bench for much of the rest of the frame.
“You’re not allowed to touch anybody anymore,” Izzo said. “It’s not as much fun to coach when you’re constantly telling guys not to touch him, don’t move.”
The Spartans tried to play the foul game despite being down late, but Duke made their free throws and charged on to the final.
Michigan State finished the game 7-20 from three point range. Valentine and Travis Trice were the only two to hit from long range for the Spartans.
Trice was quiet for most of the first half, contributing just five points in the period.
Valentine led MSU with 22. Trice finished with 16.
Duke will play the winner of Kentucky/Wisconsin Monday night for the NCAA Championship.
Photo: David Defever/MSU Impact Sports