Duke never trails in win over Michigan State

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Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Duke's Jahlil Okafor survived his first nationally-televised test and proved too much to handle for Michigan State's big men.

Okafor, the consensus top freshman in the nation, scored 17 points and led the fourth-ranked Blue Devils to an 81-71 win over the 19th-ranked Spartans in the opener of the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.

After averaging 18 points over Duke's first two games, convincing wins over Presbyterian and Fairfield, Okafor shot 8-for-10 against the veteran-led Spartans -- and that came despite spending part of the second half on the bench with four fouls.

"We knew this was going to be a tough game for us," Okafor said. "Our first game away from Cameron (Indoor Stadium). With so many young guys on this team, it was a big statement to come out here the way we did."

Quinn Cook paced Duke (3-0) with 19 points and six assists while freshmen Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow totaled 17 and 15 points, respectively.

Branden Dawson had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead Michigan State (1-1), which will play four of its first six games away from home. The Spartans survived a scare from Navy last Friday to win its season opener, 64-59.

Travis Trice went for 15 points with eight assists, and Denzel Valentine scored 13.

"I'm not happy," said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. "I got out of it what I wanted to get out of it. This team will get better."

Duke made its first seven shots -- all in the paint -- to open the game. Okafor had eight of the 14 Duke points at the first media timeout, and Cook made two free throws on the other side of it to make it 16-9 early on.

Cook hit a corner 3-ball near the midway point to push Duke's lead to eight, and another 1 1/2 minutes later for a 27-17 lead. MSU responded by scoring the next five points to stay within range.

It remained close until halftime, but Duke never fell behind and led 40-33 at the break.

MSU was within three after a pair of Valentine free throws at 12:19 of the second half. Out of a timeout, Duke began to pull away, as Winslow darted in for a layup and Cook scored five straight to make it 58-48.

Bryn Forbes ended the run with a triple, but Jones drove in for a layup before converting a four-point play that all but put the game away with 7:58 to play.

Game Notes

Okafor is shooting (25-for-30) in three games this season ... Duke has won four straight in the series and improved to 9-1 against Michigan State under head coach Mike Krzyzewski ... MSU won the rebounding margin, 35-25 ... Duke converted 24 points off 13 MSU turnovers.