DURHAM, N.C. – Nik Stauskas never found much space against a defense determined to limit his touches Tuesday night.
No. 22 Michigan's leading scorer managed just four points in a 79-69 loss at No. 10 Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. He managed to get off just two shots — one from behind the arc — after scoring at least 20 points in each of his last five games.
"It was a great plan," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "They really tried to keep Stauskas' touches very low and not let him get in a rhythm."
Stauskas missed the last game — a win over Coppin State — with an ankle injury suffered during the Puerto Rico Tipoff. In his last five games, Stauskas had shot 49 percent from 3-point range (17 for 35) and 53 percent from the field overall.
The only memorable moment for him Tuesday night came when he lost his left shoe during a first-half drive to the basket. When he couldn't put it back on quickly, he tossed it to the "Cameron Crazies" as he ran back to play defense, though arena security eventually went and retrieved the shoe during a stoppage.
"Duke's defense was really good," Beilein said. "Nik hasn't been able to practice — he did practice a little bit yesterday. We'll find out. It could've been the great defense or it could be that he didn't feel he could push really hard."
Quinn Cook had 24 points — all in the second half — and nine assists to lead the Blue Devils.
Freshman Jabari Parker added 15 points to help the Blue Devils (7-2) regroup from last week's loss to Arizona by grinding out a tough win against the Wolverines. Duke didn't shoot the ball well early but frustrated Michigan's offense, turning away every spurt and keeping the Wolverines (5-3) at arm's length much of the game.
Andre Dawkins came in midway through the second half and hit two straight 3-pointers to finally start Duke's clinching run, helping the Blue Devils to improve to 13-2 all-time in the Challenge — by far the best record for a team in either conference — including 6-0 at famously hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Caris LeVert matched his career-high with 24 points for Michigan, while Mitch McGary finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
The Wolverines shot 57 percent in the second half, but dug themselves a big hole early with a miserable start that included missing 17 of their first 21 shots. They never fully recovered, though they twice cut a 32-22 halftime deficit to six, the last time at 46-40 on LeVert's three-point play with 9:01 left.
But Dawkins entered the game and quickly hit two 3s for his first baskets that started an 11-2 run, which ended with his driving layup over Zak Irvin to push Duke's lead to 57-42 with 6:43 left.
Cook knocked down a 3 during the spurt that finally put the Blue Devils in control and he came up with a spinning layup in the lane to beat the shot clock to make it 66-50 with 2:52 left. It was a strong all-around game for Cook, who finished with two turnovers in 37 minutes and made all 10 of his free throws.
It was also a welcome bounce back effort for the Blue Devils, who lost Friday to the Wildcats in the finals of the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York. The Blue Devils had trouble with Arizona's size up front and finished with a season-low 66 points, and they shot a season-low 43.1 percent against both Alabama and Arizona in their two NIT games at Madison Square Garden.
Duke didn't shoot the ball well early, but shot 60 percent in the second half to eventually pull away from the Wolverines and finished at 50 percent for the game.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap