Preview: Michigan State at Duke

Duke owns a 10-2 lead in the series

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
Duke forward Chase Jeter (2) pulls down a rebound under pressure from Augustana forwards Mike Busack (4) and Zach Huisken (33) Friday

Duke hasn’t lost a non-conference game at home since 2000, but it doesn’t
often get visitors the caliber of the Michigan State squad it will host on
Tuesday. The fourth-ranked Blue Devils put their 128-game non-conference home
winning streak to the test – as well as their recent dominance over Tom Izzo’s
team – when they host the Spartans in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Duke owns a 10-2 lead in the series, which will be renewed for the sixth
time in the past seven seasons, including an 81-61 win in the Final Four last
campaign. Michigan State hasn’t defeated Duke since the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet
16 in 2005, but the series has been competitive – with six of the last seven
meetings and eight of the last 10 decided by 10 points or fewer. The Blue Devils
have fallen in the rankings after starting the season at No. 1, while Michigan
State has tumbled out of the top 25 after a lofty preseason perch at No. 9, in
large part because it has had to navigate one of the nation’s toughest schedules
to date. All three of the Spartans’ losses have come against teams currently
ranked in the top 15 – No. 2 Kentucky, No. 11 Baylor and No. 15 Arizona – and
now they’ll add another top-five test on the road. TV: Tuesday, November 29, 2016 – 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (4-3): The Spartans go as senior guard Eron Harris
(12.7 points) goes, as the Indianapolis native averages 19.3 points in wins and
four in losses. Miles Bridges (17.4 points, 8.7 rebounds) has been a much more
consistent scorer, putting up double digits in six of seven games – including
four 20-point performances. Fellow freshman forward Nick Ward (10.4 points, 5.9
rebounds) has been productive off the bench, but the Spartans still are a work
in progress at the offensive end. ABOUT DUKE (6-1): The Blue Devils’ roster is loaded with talent, but much of
it could be confined to the sidelines Tuesday with highly-touted freshmen Jayson
Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden still waiting to make their debuts and
star guard Grayson Allen (16.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists) nursing a toe
injury. Duke still has plenty of dangerous players, with Luke Kennard (17.2
points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists) and Amile Jefferson (13.6 points, 9.4
rebounds) leading the way along with guard Frank Jackson – the one freshman who
has seen the court enough to live up to his hype. Jackson (16 points) has scored
in double figures in every game. TIP-INS 1. Duke owns the best record (15-2) and winning percentage (.882) of any
team in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, while the Spartans are 7-9 in the event. 2. Jefferson has averaged 15.8 points and 11.5 rebounds over his last four
games, recording double-doubles in three of those contests. 3. The Spartans’ early struggles can be traced to two uncharacteristic stats
– they’ve averaged 15.3 turnovers per game and shot a paltry 60.2 percent from
the foul line.