Grayson Allen knows that Duke will have its hands full on Tuesday, when he and the No. 1 Blue Devils face No. 2 Michigan State – and one of the best players in the country.
Miles Bridges, a 6-7, 225-pound sophomore guard and preseason national player of the year, scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in the Spartans’ win over North Florida on Friday.
When asked how Duke would stop him, Allen chuckled.
“You slow him down. I don’t know that you fully stop him,” said Allen, the 6-5, 205 pound Blue Devils senior guard. “He’s a very good player. And he’s going to draw a lot of attention from the defense.”
While Bridges will be the focus for Duke (2-0) in the Champions Classic in Chicago, the Spartans have a whole group of others who also contribute. Michigan State starts four sophomores, including Bridges, and one freshman.
“They are a very well balanced team. I think (Nick) Ward, he’s a really good interior scorer,” Allen said. “Him and the freshman, (Jarren) Jackson, I got a chance to play with them both this summer and they’re very talented players. So you can’t put too much attention on Miles Bridges, even though he is really good.
“You’ve got to guard those guys too.”
Tuesday’s game will be a test for the Blue Devils.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Michigan State has a good mix of old and new players.
“They had good old, really good old, and good new,” he said. “And the guy coaching them, he’s older, not as old as me, but he’s pretty good. It’ll be a hell of a night.”
This will be the 12th meeting for Krzyzewski and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. Krzyzewski holds the advantage over Izzo, having won 10 out the 11 times they have faced each other. Duke last beat Michigan State a year ago, 78-69, at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The last time Izzo beat Duke was in the 2005 NCAA tournament, when the Spartans knocked Duke, led by J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams, out of the round of 16.
Izzo told reporters in East Lansing on Monday that his 1-10 record against Krzyzewski and Duke bothers him “every day.”
Duke won its first two games of the season this past weekend, with a 97-68 win over Elon on Friday and a 99-69 win over Utah Valley on Saturday.
The Blue Devils got big contributions from its freshmen starters and Allen, who averaged 20 points through the first two games.
Freshman forward Marvin Bagley III was the leading scorer in both games. He became Duke’s first freshman to post double-doubles in each of his first two collegiate games, and he matched a Duke record held by Jabari Parker for most points by a freshman over the first two games of his career. He scored a combined 49 points (25 against Elon, 24 against Utah Valley).
But the Spartans will provide more of a challenge for the Blue Devils.
“I feel like if we play our game, we should should be just fine,” freshman guard Gary Trent Jr., who has averaged 17 points, said Saturday about Michigan State. “We should have nothing to worry about. They are a great team, and both teams will come to play.”
Duke vs. Michigan State
What: Champions Classic
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: United Center, Chicago