CHICAGO — Every time Michigan State basketball was about to be kicked out of the United Center, something magical happened.
Maybe it was Magic Johnson’s video editing in the sequels bringing out the best in Tyson Walker. Maybe it was Tom Izzo’s fiery messages to his players. But the Spartans slowly overcame poor shooting and inconsistent offensive flow by showing as much fight as they have all season.
And yet, that wasn’t enough to overcome the mystical hold Duke had over Izzo and MSU Tuesday night.
Kyle Filipowski made his way to the free-throw line, Caleb Foster made two 3-pointers and the ninth-ranked Blue Devils used a 13-4 knockout run after the 19th-ranked Spartans , cut an 11-point deficit to three. behind another star effort from Walker.
It all added up to another loss for Izzo and MSU against Duke in the Champions Classic, this time 74-65.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Walker, who scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half. “We’ll fix it. But right now we’re just average.”
NOT A FUN RIVALRY FOR MSU: Michigan State vs. Duke in Champions Classic: What was Tom Izzo’s record vs. Mike Krzyzewski?
Izzo loses his first meeting with second-year Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer, who replaced Mike Krzyzewski last season, and falls to 3-14 all-time against Duke. The Spartans (1-2) fell to 5-8 overall in the Champions Classic and 1-4 in the contest against Duke (2-1).
Many of the same issues from the first game remain for MSU, which returns home to face Butler Friday in the Gavitt Games (6:30 p.m./FS1). Walker finished with 22 points on 9 of 17 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. The rest of the Spartans went 3 of 14 from deep. Malik Hall added 18 points, while Jaden Akins had 11 points and eight rebounds.
MSU is now 8-for-50 from 3-point range through three games.
“Is it in their heads? Maybe it is,” Izzo said. “But I know it. I’m going to get that out of their heads, and I don’t know yet how I’m going to do it. But I think the players know it, I think they took some responsibility.
“I’m going to try to make sure I do a better job of beating Duke, but it’s not at the top of my radar.”
Carson Cooper with four points was the only other MSU player to score more than two, and he added eight rebounds, AJ Hoggard, who had eight assists, went just 1 of 8 from the field for two points.
“I only speak for myself, I need to step up,” said Hoggard, who is scoring just 5.0 points on 19.2 percent shooting overall and has missed all seven of his 3-point attempts this season. “He also only averages 2.7 rebounds with 15 turnovers and six assists. “I’m a senior now. I’ve been in some big games before, so I just have to be better for my guys.
Caleb Foster scored 18 points and Kyle FIlipowski had 15 points and eight rebounds for Duke. Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell each had 13, and Ryan Young and Jeremy Roach combined for 15 points.
Duke went 24 for 30 from the free throw line, and MSU went just 7 for 12. The Spartans were whistled for 23 fouls compared to 16 for the Blue Devils.
“We didn’t get to the finish line enough. We made too many mistakes,” Izzo said. “That was another key to this game, I thought.”
Hall made a 3-pointer after MSU won the tipoff, a welcome relief after the Spartans went 2-for-31 in the first two games.
It was only a momentary respite.
Shots continued to miss from behind the arc after that.
The Spartans were 2-for-13 at halftime, and a few of the misses turned into Duke buckets on the other end.
The Blue Devils weren’t shooting much better (9 of 20 overall) thanks to pesky defensive pressure from MSU’s guards, making just 2 of 8 from outside. But one of them came after Hoggard took a wide-open look from deep, with Duke’s Proctor draining his 3-pointer from the left corner with 4:22 left before halftime.
That shot sparked a 12-2 run for the Blue Devils, and MSU missed six of its final seven shots and all four of its 3-point tries in the final 4:39 to lead 31-20 at intermission.
“I think we’re just trying to find a way to make shots,” Hoggard said. “Making snapshots solves all these problems, the identity problems.”
MSU held Duke’s leading scorer, 7-foot sophomore Filipowski, to just five points and two rebounds with two fouls in the first half. But Mitchell had nine points, including seven from the line. Roach, Proctor and Northwestern Transfer Young each scored five.
The Spartans forced 10 turnovers at halftime, but committed nine, and were trailed, 19-16. MSU faced foul trouble early, with Fears, Hall, Carson Cooper and Coen Carr all getting two as the Spartans were whistled for 11 to Duke’s six. The Blue Devils capitalized by scoring 11 of 14 at the line; MSU missed both of its free throw attempts, in both situations.
“For me, the most important thing is that they get fouled a lot, so playing them without fouling was a big thing tonight,” Scheyer said.
Hall had just one other basket in the first half and scored five before the break. Walker struggled to find many openings to drive or shoot without multiple Blue Devils following him or stepping up to disrupt him. The senior scored just four points on 2-of-5 shooting.
Down, not out
After halftime, and finally freed from his two-foul seat on the bench, Hall began to bring MSU back into the game.
The senior forward hit a layup, a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws immediately after halftime. Then Walker scored and Akins made a putback that brought the Spartans within 35-31 and forced Scheyer to call a timeout at 3:36 of the half.
This seemed to stabilize his team. Duke once again pulled out a 16-9 lead to extend its lead to 11 on a Filipowski backhand and Foster tip-in with 10:23 remaining.
But Walker didn’t want to go, even though his teammates began to hesitate to shoot. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and drew three pairs of eyes on a drive, allowing the former point guard to throw a pass to Coen Carr for a dunk. Walker hit another jumper to bring the Spartans within 53-50 with 6:42 left.
“Walker, he made some tough shots, man,” Scheyer said. “The hands on his face and his ability to shoot the rebound, shoot contested shots.”
That’s when Duke came to the line several times, starting with two from Mitchell and then a three-point play from Filipowski. Young hit a pair, then Filipowski added two more after a loose ball scramble. His kick to Foster for a 3-pointer with just over 3 minutes left all but sealed MSU’s fate.
“I think one thing about us is we’ll never give up. I think any good team in the country will never give up,” Hall said. “It’s just about finishing, really. … When we get them back to three or four points, I think there’s been four or five times or something like that, we’ve got to get over that hurdle. Lock in, make those stops and then make a basket.
“We have to do that if we want to be a really good team.”
Contact Chris Solari: email@example.com. follow him @chrissolari.
Subscribe to the “Spartan Speak” podcast for new episodes every week on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. And find all our podcasts and daily voice briefings on freep.com/podcasts.
Next stop: bulldogs
Match: No. 19 Michigan State (1-2) against Butler (3-0).
Trick : 6:30 p.m. Friday; Breslin Center, East Lansing.
Television/radio: FS1; WJR-AM (760).