It was what you expect from a No. 1 and No. 2 team going at it early in the season.
A lot of nerves early on, with both teams making mistakes. But after a few minutes the nerves wore off, and both teams began to slug it out.
Preseason national player of the year Miles Bridges took off in the second half for Michigan State. But so did Duke’s best player, Grayson Allen, who scored 37 points, including a crucial 3-pointer with less than a minute remaining that put the Blue Devils up 7 points.
The Blue Devils (3-0) beat the Spartans (1-1) 88-81 in front of a sold-out crowd at the United Center in Chicago for the Champions Classic.
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The win wasn’t without cost. Duke’s star freshman Marvin Bagley III was poked in the eye by a teammate in the first half. The game paused while he was examined on the floor, then helped into the locker room by the Duke staff. He appeared to be okay when he returned to the bench in the second half, but remained on the bench for the rest of the game.
“Bagley, you know is our most talented player, he’s got like a scratched eye, and we didn’t want to bring him back in the second half,” Krzyzewski said. “His eye was starting to shut. At first he had a hard time seeing out of the eye.”
Krzyzewski said he thinks Bagley will be OK.
Still, the Blue Devils were able to pull it out without him.
For the second straight game, the Blue Devils started slow, before turning the game around with the help of its bench. Sophomore forward Javin DeLaurier and freshman Jordan Goldwire sparked the Blue Devils’ defense, which seemed to give them the confidence for a 13-0 run. Duke led 24-14 with a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
Soon after Bagley was poked in the eye, Michigan State responded with an 11-0 run of its own. The game remained close from there. Both teams scored back and forth.
Duke was only able to slow Bridges in the first half. He scored 3 points in the first, but added 16 more in the second.
On a night when its leading scorer went down with an injury, and two freshmen having an off night, Allen and Trevon Duval helped carry the team. Allen and Duval hit shots or made plays time and time again, every time Duke was down.
One of the biggest plays came with 3 minutes and 11 seconds remaining. The game was tied 75-75. DeLaurier rebounded a miss, passed it out to Allen who drove and kicked it out to freshman guard Gary Trent Jr. for an open 3-pointer. The shot went in, giving Duke the lead for good.
Before that shot, Trent was 2-for-13 from the floor.
“That sequence was the biggest play of the game,” Krzyzewski said. “And when Gary shot it, I think he was 2-for-13 at that time, and he just knocked it down. I’m just proud of him. A lot of guys wouldn’t shoot it. And he did, and boom, it was there.”
Duval finished with 17 points and 10 assists. Allen finished 11-for-20 from the floor and 7-for-11 from behind the 3-point line. He played all 40 minutes of the game.
Duke was without its associate head coach Jeff Capel III, who lost his father, Jeff Capel Jr., on Monday.
Before the game, Duke wore their “Equality” shirts, while Michigan State wore shirts that said “We talk, We listen.”