In their first real test of the season, the No. 4 Blue Devils will take on No. 19 Michigan State at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in Indianapolis. Before every basketball game, we’ll break down a player on each team who could be the difference-maker in the upcoming contest.
Duke: forward Justise Winslow
Duke had another easy victory 109-59 against Fairfield Saturday, but this feat would not have been as effortless without the impact of Justise Winslow. In his 21 minutes, the 6-foot-6 swingman scored a game-high 18 points. He also had six boards, two assists, a block and a steal. With Michigan State boasting two experienced wings in Denzel Valentine and Branden Dawson, Winslow will need to continue attacking on both ends of the court for the Blue Devils to earn their third win in five days.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has said that Winslow is the most unique player on the roster with his powerful 225-pound frame and speed to fly all over the court. WIth Spartan head coach Tom Izzo likely to concentrate on slowing down center Jahlil Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones, Winslow could need to have another big game for Duke to emerge victorious.
The aspect of his game to keep an eye on is his jump shooting. If Winslow knocks down his perimeter jumper, he is almost impossible to guard and will gain even more confidence in his first big college game.
Michigan State: guard Travis Trice
In the Spartans' season opener against Navy, Trice made a statement with a career-high 25-point outburst after only averaging 5.7 points per game in his last three seasons. He also added five assists and five defensive rebounds. The senior's career game helped Michigan escape a tight game against Navy with a 64-59 victory.
After being overshadowed by Keith Appling and Gary Harris for much of his time in East Lansing, Trice is poised to be one of the most improved players in the country this year. The 6-foot guard shot 43.4 percent from 3-point range and is a solid ball handler who will be counted on to effectively run Izzo's offense with several unproven players in the rotation other than Dawson and Valentine.
If Winslow and Duke's perimeter players don't rotate effectively when the Huber Heights, Ohio, native gets set from beyond the arc, the Blue Devils could be in for a long night.
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