Defensive Score Sheet: Michigan State vs. Duke

In MSU's 71-61 loss to Duke in the Sweet 16 a lot will be made about the Spartans' offensive struggles. And, for the most part, those statements will be reasonable.

It should be said, however, that while the "MSU made one field goal in 14:38" it wasn't as if the Spartans weren't scoring. When the field goal drought began MSU's Adreian Payne had just tied the score at 35-35 with a phenomenal dunk. During the drought MSU's only field goal was a driving layup by Gary Harris.

But, when Branden Dawson made a layup with 3:32 to play it cut the Duke lead to 62-53. So, just so we're on the same page, MSU scored 16 points in the 14:38 that the offense was on life support. That's not great, nor good, but it isn't the worst display of basketball since Kansas lost to TCU earlier this year.

That stretch, however, was the difference in the game. MSU's defense lost some of it's fire because it couldn't piggyback on any made-basket momentum. The Spartans were 1-10 from the field with seven turnovers. MSU did get to the line plenty, going 14-for-17 in that 14:38 span alone. (In comparison Duke was just 7-for-7 from the line but did make nine field goals in that stretch).

Here's MSU defensive score sheet for the game:

The biggest surprise was Denzel Valentine who looks more and more comfortable in Tom Izzo's defense. After looking raw early in the season (Valentine posted a 108.8 DRtg in the Big Ten opener at Minnesota and a team-worst 116.3 DRtg at Indiana) he was a star against Duke. His superior length on Duke's guards had to be a factor and it almost certainly will be a factor his next three years in East Lansing as well.