CHICAGO—It was a slow, and messy, start from both sides, but No. 9 Duke and No. 18 Michigan State kept it close through the first half. A 12-2 run to close the half helped the Blue Devils build a 31-20 lead with 20 minutes to play.
Stewart first off the bench
After only seeing four minutes on the court in Duke’s loss against now-No. 3 Arizona Friday night, head coach Jon Scheyer sent the freshman forward in for sophomore Mark Mitchell before the under-16 timeout. After a dismal start shooting — and rebounding on the defensive end — the Blue Devils needed a spark on both ends. Stewart had scored eight points in Duke’s first two games, and the Blue Devils looked to get him involved in the offense early, but he walked with the ball on his first look at the rim. He picked up four minutes on the half and did not score. His frontcourt partner Ryan Young, after struggles against Arizona, saw the floor for 12 minutes.
3-point shooting woes continue
The Spartans entered Tuesday night shooting 2-for-31 from beyond the arc, a paltry 6.5% rate. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, shot the ball well at an average clip against Arizona, but Mitchell and Tyrese Proctor combined to shoot just 1-for-10. On Tuesday, Duke did not connect on a 3-pointer until Jeremy Roach struck from deep just past the 12-minute mark, while Michigan State shot just 2-for-13 on the half from deep after Malik Hall splashed in the first look of the game. Proctor added a three later in the half and Roach was fouled on another, but he only hit two of his three shots from the charity stripe.
Turnovers on turnovers
Duke is a young team. But some of its turnovers in the early going do not nearly meet the standard of the preseason-No. 2 team in the country. Mitchell gave the ball away on a five-second violation on an inbound pass, while freshman guard Caleb Foster handed Michigan State the ball twice with a careless pass and a travel as he fought through traffic. Uncharacteristically, Roach had three and Duke as a team had 10 giveaways. These numbers may seem like the Blue Devils were down by a ton, but the Spartans were not much better in the ball-control department, handing the ball to their opposition eight times. The slow start left the score at just 12-12 at the under-eight-minute stoppage and season lows for both squads at the half.
Michigan State guard Tyson Walker, who has blown away his opponents by averaging 24.5 points in his first two outings, was kept away from the ball and the rim in the first half against the Blue Devils. After taking 33 shots total entering Tuesday, Duke kept the ball out of his hands and left the graduate student with just five shot attempts and four points in the first 20 minutes of gameplay.
Player of the half: Mark Mitchell
The sophomore forward started the night off slow, with two turnovers before even attempting a shot. But crucially for the Blue Devils, in the poor offensive showing by both teams, he was able to capitalize on his chances at the foul stripe. He hit his first six free throws and then landed an and-one as he drove through Carson Cooper with 3:49 to go. His three-point play gave Duke a seven-point lead and made him the game’s leading scorer with nine.
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Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity senior and was previously a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.