After each Duke men's basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. The Blue Devils got back on track Tuesday night as they defeated Michigan State 74-65, and the Blue Zone breaks down the victory:
One player: Caleb Foster
It was a big night for freshman guard Caleb Foster, who led the team in points with 18. Not only did he score with volume, but also tremendous efficiency. The Harrisburg, N.C., native shot a strong 7-of-8 from the field. In a relatively tight game down the stretch and where points were scarce at moments, Foster’s big night was a key part of the Blue Devil victory.
His most notable impact came from behind the arc, where Foster shot a remarkable 4-of-5. It seemed like he was always open, prepared to quickly knock down a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer. His most important shot came with 1:55 remaining in the second half, when Foster drilled a kick-out from guard Tyrese Proctor to extend the Duke lead to 12 points and essentially seal the victory for the Blue Devils. Moving forward, if Foster can continue to get hot like he did Tuesday night, he will remain an important part of this roster. Last year, this group was stronger inside than on the perimeter. Now with the addition of shooters like Foster, Duke has given itself more ways to score.
One word: Teamwork
For a team with so many highly-touted stars and projected NBA draft picks, there was minimal hero ball Tuesday evening. Four different players climbed into double-digit scoring, but nobody cleared Foster’s 18-point mark. Proctor led the team in assists with six, but senior captain Jeremy Roach tacked on another five. Notably, backup center Ryan Young also recorded a pair, demonstrating his ability to work as a facilitator inside.
This Blue Devil squad is one that has faced adversity early in the season in the home loss to Arizona. Now, Duke has proven that it can handle the heat, totaling 17 assists against a tough team in an unfamiliar environment. Moving forward, these early tests will give the squad from Durham some confidence and also the ability to trust each other in those big moments when every point matters.
One stat: 3-point shooting
It was a rough night shooting the ball from deep for both teams. Michigan State shot an unimpressive 6-of-19, outdone by a 6-of-22 Blue Devil performance. Notably, four of Duke’s six 3-pointers came from Foster. The rest of the team shot a disheartening 2-of-17. Sophomore forward Kyle Filipowski struggled from beyond the arc, not making one of his four 3-point attempts. Freshman guard Jared McCain had an identical mark. While Proctor managed to drop one, he also tried for four others that did not fall.
This game was relatively low-scoring, and the deep shooting is a big reason why. Even when generating quality looks, neither team was able to knock down its shots at an efficient clip. Going forward against tough ACC opponents, Duke will need to take advantage of every open shot it has.
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