EAST LANSING, Mich.—Despite playing in his first true road game and getting booed on every miss during shootaround, Duke freshman Vernon Carey Jr. was simply unfazed by the spotlight.
As would be expected from a top-15 team playing in front of its home crowd, Michigan State would not crumple after falling behind by 16 at the half. The 11th-ranked Spartans appeared poised for a dominant second half after a 9-1 spurt out of the locker room, which was capped by a triple from Cassius Winston.
However, Carey wouldn’t have any of it, answering the call with five of his game-high 26 points out of a timeout to spark a game-clinching 8-0 run by the Blue Devils. No. 10 Duke would stretch the lead back to 16 and beyond at the Breslin Center, running away with a dominant 87-75 victory in the Big Ten/ACC challenge Tuesday night.
Carey added 11 rebounds to his total, turning in his seventh consecutive double-double.
"They all responded as good as you could expect, especially for it being our first true road game. It's going to be loud. It's going to be very hostile. And we did a really good job of eliminating their crowd from the beginning just by playing hard and trying to take control of the game," senior captain Javin DeLaurier said. "Second half, they came out and hit us with a couple punches. But we did a really good job of responding and the freshmen played amazing tonight."
Last March, Michigan State (5-3) rained on Duke’s parade, knocking off Zion Williamson and Co. to advance to the Final Four. And, on a night when former Spartan Draymond Green’s number was lifted into the Breslin Center rafters, it was the Blue Devils' turn to crash the party.
Playing with a chip on his shoulder, point guard Tre Jones totaled 20 points, 12 assists and three steals, while locking down the preseason National Player of the Year in Winston, who finished with just 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
"[Winston's] a great player. I have a ton of respect for him and his game. But we protected the rim really well when he started attacking—just trying to make it as difficult as we could on him throughout the entire night," Jones said. "Playing against him last year, I realized how much he does for their team, how much he means to them and how much they can feed off of him creating for them. I'm just trying to try to make it as difficult as I can for them throughout the entire night."
With both teams desperate for a statement victory after a disappointing week, which included shocking upsets for both programs, it was the Blue Devils (8-1) who displayed a sense of urgency from the opening tip.
After free throw shooting cost the Blue Devils against Winthrop and Stephen F. Austin last week, Duke converted at the line when it mattered most. Carey drained 9-of-12 attempts and the Blue Devils as a whole ended the contest at a 72.7 percent clip from the stripe.
The Blue Devil defense was tenacious from the outset, sparked by Javin DeLaurier in a bounce-back performance. Duke forced seven turnovers in the first 12 minutes and held the Spartans to a mere 45.2 percent rate from the field in the contest.
After recording a 10-point, 11-rebound performance in the teams’ Elite Eight matchup, DeLaurier came out with a similar fire Tuesday. The Shipman, Va., native picked up a steal, block and an offensive board in his first two minutes of play and finished the contest with 10 points, six rebounds and two steals.
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"I thought we did a good job of getting back and actually, we had a lot more fast break points than I could have ever imagined in this game," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "So much of that had to do with Tre and how our big guys ran the court, especially Javin. Javin has not played to the level that he’s capable of; tonight he was a difference-maker for us. I thought our big guys did a very, very good job and we won a tough game."
Duke did not miss a beat playing without normal starting guard Cassius Stanley, who suffered a hamstring injury Friday. The Blue Devils showcased their balance, as Joey Baker and Jack White filled in seamlessly. Baker helped Duke ice the game down the stretch with a pair of makes and built off of a career performance against Winthrop with an 11-point effort Tuesday.
Following the victory against the Spartans, the Blue Devils will remain on the road and will open ACC play at Virginia Tech Friday. The Hokies defeated Michigan State last week during the Maui Invitational.
"We have to be more consistent with this play now. We can’t have any lapses like we did last week," Jones said. "That's something we learned from last week. We flipped the page in our book and have moved forward. We know the type of team we can be, and getting a road win like this is big for us."