Izzo: No asterisk on first win at Cameron Indoor

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Izzo: No asterisk on first win at Cameron Indoor

For all of Tom Izzo’s success in college basketball, there was one thing he had never done: get a win at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Duke.

Until Tuesday.

No. 8 Michigan State came back from an early nine-point deficit to beat No. 6 Duke 75-69 in the first game of the Champions Classic.

“We came down here to win a game,” said Izzo, who had been 0-3 at Cameron. “I think I’ve done a poor job over the years. I either get too hyped for the game or give them too much credit. I thought we were a good team that could beat them. I thought they had a good team, but I thought our defense and our depth — and it turned out that way.”

It also marked Michigan State’s first win at Duke, with all three previous attempts coming under Izzo.

It was Duke’s third nonconference home loss since 2000, but second in the past two seasons after the 85-83 defeat to Stephen F. Austin last November. There were no fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium for Tuesday’s game, but that won’t take away from the win for Izzo.

“I know one thing: I’m not gonna put this as an asterisk,” he said. “It was a good win for us against a good team, a great program and a very, very well-coached team.”

Rocket Watts led the way with 20 points for Michigan State, but Joey Hauser and Malik Hall both had double-doubles and Aaron Henry finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks and 3 steals.

“For the things he’s done for me and all the times he’s had my back, behind closed doors, in my face, not in my face, that’s the least I could do for him,” Henry said. “He’s helped me out in more ways than just getting the win for him tonight. I’m very appreciative of that. I’m happy for Coach and the career that he’s had, and I’m happy that I’m one of the players that got him a win here in Cameron. It’s a hard place to win from what I understand, with or without fans, and it was still tough. But I’m happy this happened, and I’m happy I could do it with him.”

Michigan State turned it over seven times in the first 10 minutes, helping Duke get easy baskets en route to an early lead. But once the Spartans settled down and stopped letting the Blue Devils get points in transition, the momentum switched to Michigan State. Duke couldn’t score consistently against a set defense and the Spartans turned up the pressure on the offensive end, becoming more aggressive with the ball and attacking the basket.

Duke shot only 5-for-23 from 3-point range, and the only player to consistently find ways to score in the second half was Matthew Hurt, who finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

“I thought we made a huge jump from our first game,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We just have to keep getting better. I’m not disappointed in my team. They came to win, and they didn’t. But we lost to a really good team.”

Michigan State has gotten off to a stronger start than expected after bidding farewell to All-American point guard Cassius Winston and fellow draft pick Xavier Tillman. The returnees have taken steps forward, particularly Hall and Watts, while the return of Joshua Langford and the arrival of Hauser have brought experience.

And on Tuesday, the emergence of sophomore Julius Marble made a difference. Marble played just six minutes total in the first two games, but he came off the bench to score 12 points in 12 minutes against Duke.

“It’s another guy that I’m so proud of,” Izzo said. “He’s kind of weathered the storm. We put him on the scout team … And he has taken full advantage. Was it a surprise? No. I’ve seen this for two weeks. He’s smart, he’s athletic, he’s got the one thing I love; he’s tough.”

ESPN’s David Hale contributed to this report.

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