Seth Curry shot Duke right into the regional finals — and put Mike Krzyzewski on the verge of another milestone.
Curry scored 29 points and the Blue Devils beat Michigan State 71-61 on Friday night to advance to the Midwest Regional final in the NCAA tournament.”Seth was just at a different level than anyone else on the court offensively tonight,” Krzyzewski said. “To get 29 points in a game like this against a good team is just incredible.”
If No. 2 seed Duke (30-5) beats top-seeded Louisville (32-5) in Sunday’s regional final, Krzyzewski would tie John Wooden’s record with 12 Final Four trips.Third-seeded Michigan State (27-9) just couldn’t keep up with Curry and Duke’s shooters. Keith Appling had 16 points for the Spartans, and Adreian Payne finished with 14.Curry’s sixth 3-pointer of the game broke a 38-38 tie early in the second half, sending Duke on a 9-0 run. It also matched the school record for most 3s in an NCAA tourney game, most recently accomplished by Jason Williams on March 22, 2001, against UCLA.The Blue Devils never trailed again.Rasheed Sulaimon had 16 points and Mason Plumlee finished with 14 for Duke.
The win comes 16 months after Duke beat Michigan State to give Krzyzewski the NCAA record for wins. Now, one year after falling to Lehigh in the second round of the tournament, Krzyzewski is on the verge of breaking a second-place tie with North Carolina’s Dean Smith and matching Wooden’s mark.Louisville coach Rick Pitino has made six appearances in the Final Four. Another win would tie him for fourth with Roy Williams in a game that likely will be played in front of another highly partisan Cardinals crowd.But this night belonged to Curry, who averaged 21.5 points in the Blue Devils’ first two tourney games. He scored 14 in the first half and when he hit his third 3 of the second half with 17:10 left, Duke took off.”I was just trying to set up my cuts a little better,” Curry said of the opening part of the second half. “The guys were setting screens a little better, so I credit my teammates to get me open and get me into a rhythm.”The Blue Devils finally broke open the back-and-forth game by scoring five straight points midway through the second half, extending the lead to 56-46. It never trailed again in an entertaining contest between two of college basketball’s most successful coaches.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, coach Tom Izzo’s son’s prediction of a Duke victory proved to be correct, preventing a third Big Ten team from reaching the regional finals.
“They’re a good team, they played well, Curry hurt us, no question about it,” Izzo said. “We didn’t quit, we hung in there. I thought we played poorly for us, but the better team won tonight.”The first half was played to a near draw with four ties and eight lead changes.Michigan State grabbed an 18-17 lead on Derrick Nix’s tip-in with 9:52 left in the first half, but Curry then scored nine points in an 11-2 run for the Blue Devils. He was fouled by Travis Trice while attempting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws to make it 28-20 with 4:59 remaining.Back came the Spartans, who clamped down on defense and closed to 32-31 at halftime.
The game remained close until Curry sparked a 9-0 spree in the second half that made it 47-38 with 13:47 remaining. Curry opened the run with a tiebreaking 3-pointer and Mason Plumlee had consecutive baskets before Curry scored again.
Michigan State closed to 65-58 with 1:32 to go, but couldn’t get any closer.
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This article was originally posted on ESPN.com