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Champions Classic Final: No.18 MSU Fall To No.9 Duke 74-65

The Spartans are now 1-2 despite All-American play from Tyson Walker

East Lansing - Tyson Walker poured in 22 points and Malik Hall went off for 18, but late game fouls from Michigan State sealed their fate against the Duke Blue Devils in the latest battle of the legendary programs.

The game took place inside Chicago's United Center as part of the Champions Classic, an annual showdown between Michigan State, Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky in which the four prominent programs rotate playing eachother in an early-season battle. Michigan State and Duke began the afternoon followed by Kansas against Kentucky, a matchup Kansas narrowly won 89-94.

Duke's Caleb Foster (18 points off the bench) and Kyle Filipowski (15 points, 8 rebounds) carried the day for Duke, who got back on a winning track after an early season defeat to the Arizona Wildcats -- whom the Spartans are slated to play next week.

Michigan State got off to a promising start. Poor shooting was subsidized by swarming defense against Duke and it's star power. Spartan senior forward Malik Hall did not allow much to Duke's All-American candidate Kyle Filipowski, and Michigan State forced Duke into turnover after turnover. After early season team rebounding trouble, senior center Sisoko and Hall attacked the boards on each early shot.

After an offensive board that resulted in a Jaden Akins three-pointer, Michigan State held a 12-9 lead through 10 minutes of action.

The next 10 minutes of action didn't go as planned.

In part due to missed opportunities at the free throw line and bad fouls by MSU, Duke went on a 22-8 run and took the air and momentum away from Michigan State and their hopeful in Chicago as the teams went into half with Duke leading 31-20.

Tell me if you've heard this one before spartan fans: early turnovers and poor shooting killed our first half. The narrative has plagued MSU all season, and once again rang true in their biggest matchup thus far. Nine turnovers and 18% shooting spelled disaster in the first period for the Spartans.

And boy, head coach Tom Izzo must have blew a gasket during halftime.

The haltime speech must've went something like this: Less three-point attempts, more drives, less fouling, more rebounding and transition. Mixed with a few words and statements we can only imagine.

In Spartan Dawg fashion, they responded to the best leader in college sports.

Out of half, AJ Hoggard's all-world passing ability was on full display. After a Duke miss, Hoggard pushed a transition and delivered a dime to a streaking Malik Hall to tip off second half scoring. After a duke score, Hoggard, who led the Big Ten in assist last year, found Hall again for an open three-pointer that closed Duke's gap to eight points. Hoggard finished with eight assist on the night.

After consecutive missed shots from Duke, MSU continued their push and Jaden Akins (8 rebonds) hit the offensive glass for a rebound and score that got MSU back within four points, 35-31, with 16 minutes to play.

Then Caleb Foster happened. Duke's freshman star came off the bench and hit a three to stop the bleeding. He proceeded to hit 2 more shots and went on a 8-2 run by himself to push Duke's lead back to 11.

Michigan State did not go down easy. In part due to the stellar defensive play of freshmen Coen Carr and sophmore Carson Cooper.

Tasked with defending Duke's future NBA talents Kyle Filipowski and Mark Mitchell, each held their own. Coen Carr had two huge blocks and a steal down the stretch and Carson Cooper, contributing a late block and steal of his own, kept Duke honest in the paint with his grit.

It allowed Sparty to climb back into it, and allow their own All-American candidate, Tyson Walker, to enter the chat with a meteoric 3 minute stretch.

A Tyson Walker three, Duke up 51-43. Nine miuntes to play. Tyson Walker lobs to Carr, 51-45. Tyson Walker three, 51-48. Duke scored, and Tyson Walker got the ball again. Iso, bucket, 53-50. Duke timeout. Six minutes to go.

Tyson willed MSU on a 10-2 run that got them within three points, and exemplified exactly why perhaps, no not perhaps, he is, the #1 menace in the nation.

However it wasn't enought. After the Walker-led run, Caleb foster hit two more three-pointers on poor rotational defense from MSU, paired with questionable fouls, Duke's lead ballooned back to 68-56 with under two minutes to play. They wouldn't allow anymore runs.

Michigan State ended the game shooting 31% (6/19) from three-point territory, bringing their season deep-ball precentage to 16%; for a team who shot a flaming 39% from deep a season ago.

It's clear that Tom Izzo's team will win and lose based on their guard play, specifically the passing prowess of AJ Hoggard and the elite-level scoring ability of Tyson Walker. However when those guards aren't creating consistently, such as the early-season case for Jaden Akins and Tre Holloman, Sparty will need to rely on play from their bigs Mady Sisoko, Malik Hall, and Carson Cooper.

Which means the combo of those three will need to stay away from foul trouble. Cooper had five fouls, Hall had four, and Sisoko had 3.

Michigan State suits up next against Butler, Friday in East Lansing. The two teams have history, as their first ever matchip was a 2010 Final Four matchup, won by Butler 52-50.

The team the winner of that game got to play: Duke.


Below, relive the Champions Classic in pictures, presented by Next Up Michigan partner Head Coach Magazine (Blake Wilson/ HC Mag):



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