Michigan State v Duke

Michigan State couldn’t overcome second half offensive struggles in Sweet 16 loss to Duke

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Michigan State trailed Duke by one at halftime in the Sweet 16 matchup in the Midwest Region.

In the second half, though, Duke kicked up the defensive pressure and limited the Spartans offensive as Duke rolled 71-61 and will meet No. 1 overall seed Louisville in the Midwest Regional final on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Seth Curry was on fire shooting 8-for-17, 6-for-9 from behind the arc, en route to a game-high 29 points. But the defense in the last 20 minutes was what helped the Blue Devils advance. Michigan State entered the game with the advantage on the board with Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix inside, and that proved to be true as Sparty outrebounded Duke 33-26 and 8-4 on the offensive glass. However, Duke made it tough for the tandem inside to get anything going offensively.

Both Payne and Nix shot 3-for-10. Payne had 14 points, half of those came from the line, and grabbed nine rebounds. Nix, who did sit out with foul trouble in the second half, ended with nine points and 10 boards. With the inside presence was being held in check, Gary Harris also struggled shooting with 2-for-11 for six points in the loss.

To start the second half, Michigan State got a bucket from Nix and a Payne slam within the first two minutes. The Spartans didn’t convert on a field goal for six minutes when Harris connected on a layup. Harris’ score was the last field goal for almost nine-minute span. Michigan State had seven of its 10 turnovers in the second half also didn’t help matched with the offensive struggles.

Michigan State had it to seven at 63-56 with two minutes to go, but the Spartans had already dug themselves into a hole.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown:

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

Iowa State forward Georges Niang drives past Texas guard Tevin Mack, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons. Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.