New York, NY – The sixth-ranked Duke Blue Devils invade the Big Apple this evening, for an intriguing showdown with the Michigan State Spartans as part of the Champions Challenge at Madison Square Garden.
Mike Krzyzewski is on the verge of becoming the winningest coach in Division I history, as he is tied with Bob Knight with 902 career wins. Coach K tied Knight with Saturday's 96-55 victory over Presbyterian, giving Duke a 2-0 start to the season.
It doesn't get much tougher in terms of early season scheduling for the Spartans, as Tom Izzo's squad is facing its second straight top-10 foe to start the year. Michigan State traveled to San Diego for the season-opener on Friday, falling to top-ranked North Carolina in the Carrier Classic on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson, 67-55.
Duke has won six of the eight previous meetings with Michigan State, including an 84-79 decision in Durham last year.
The Blue Devils have placed five or more players in double figures in each of their first two games. In the win over the Blue Hose, it was Ryan Kelly who led the offensive charge off the bench, netting 17 points in just 19 minutes of work. Freshman Austin Rivers made his presence felt with 15 points and six assists. Miles Plumlee had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, brother Mason finished with 13 points and eight boards, while Seth Curry and Quinn Cook chipped in with 10 points apiece. Duke shot 55.2 percent from the floor, including a scorching 67.9 percent in the first half, effectively putting the game out of reach early with a 53-30 lead at the break. Rivers, the son of Doc Rivers, is one of the nation's top newcomers and has made an immediate impact with 16 and 17 points, respectively in his first two games. The Plumlee brothers have been strong down low. Miles had the double-double against the Blue Hose, while Mason recorded one in the season-opener against Belmont.
The Spartans aren't being talked about in terms of being a Big Ten contender this season, as Izzo has a severely inexperienced squad. Despite dropping the season-opener to the Tar Heels, there were certainly positives to take from the game, including MSU outrebounding North Carolina 49-34, including a whopping 24 offensive boards that resulted in 24 second-chance points. Draymond Green recorded his 19th career double-double, finishing with 13 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. Branden Dawson was the only other Spartan to finish in double figures with 10 points. The Spartans will always be tough on the glass, but to remain competitive against the better teams on the schedule, scoring depth must be found.