A trip to the Elite Eight was in front of Michigan State on Friday night as they battled Duke. However, Duke standout Seth Curry set the stage for the Spartans to lose in the Midwest Regional 71-61 ending their season short of their goals.
“A very disappointing loss,” said Spartans head coach Tom Izzo. “I felt like we never got on track. We were in foul trouble the whole game and it seemed like that wasn't going to end. And they shoot 40 percent, we shoot 40. They shot a little better than us from the 3.
“But the difference was in those stretch of - that one stretch it was just free throw after free throw and we can't do anything about it, and we didn't do a very good job guarding them from the standpoint of I thought they exploited our freshmen a little bit. And they're a good team. They're a good team. They played well.
“Curry hurt us, no question about it, and that's why he's a great player. But we didn't quit. We hung in there. I thought we played poorly for us. But I'm sure Duke had a lot to do with that. And, as I said, the better team won. So just lick our wounds and live for another day.”
While Keith Appling drew the assignment to stop Curry, he found the fifth-year senior too hard to handle.
“He just made shots,” said Appling. “Simple as that. The plays that they ran for him were just right, and he came up hard and just knocked the shots down. That made it tough for us for the whole game.”
Izzo gave Curry all the credit despite not agreeing with some of the fouls called on his team.
“I thought Curry did a great job of coming off those screens,” explained Izzo. “He stops, he pops. They kept calling things I didn't agree with. But got him to the line, Sulaimon, got him to the line and he made those three 3s.
“We got a little hesitant in how to guard him, and he did the job on Harris. I think Harris is one of the best defenders they got and this night, he goes 8 for 17, which isn't off the charts, but the 6 for 9 and 7 for 7 from the line and there's no doubt he single handedly beat us, when you look at all the other guys. We did a pretty good job defensively. The foul thing bothered me a little bit, to be honest about it. But it is what it is.”
The Spartans end the season with a 27-9 overall mark and will have to wait another year to make a run towards another championship.