If you thought Duke’s injured freshmen would be ready for Tuesday’s Michigan State game, think again.
Coach Mike Kryzyzewski after the No. 5 Blue Devils’ 93-58 win over Appalachian State said they won’t play in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
So Duke (6-1) will carry along with its limited crew, which now includes Grayson Allen, who played only minutes in the second half against the Mountaineers after a dropping a game-high 21 points in the first half. He came down hard, and Krzyzewski said it was Allen’s toe that was hurt.
Not the team they expected to be at this point in the year, the Blue Devils will tread on against the Spartans, who boast a top freshman of their own in forward Miles Bridges, the No. 8 recruit of his class and No. 2 in Michigan.
“Thank goodness we have these veterans,” Krzyzewski said.
Grad student forward Amile Jefferson has had a dominating start to his season, averaging 15.8 points and 11.5 boards in the last four games. He’s leading the ACC in defensive rebounds with 7.4.
Duke averages 40.3 rebounds a game without freshman Marques Bolden and now with sophomore Chase Jeter, who started the first four games of the year, coming off the bench. Freshman Harry Giles is recovering from a knee scope and freshman Jayson Tatum has a sprained foot.
Jefferson said Duke will have to depend on all of its available guys.
“I’ve seen (Michigan State) play before and they play a lot of guys,” Jefferson said of a Spartans team that featured four bench players with at least 14 minutes in their latest win, a 77-72 victory over Wichita State. “They have a lot of talent on their team, so we’ll depend on a lot of our guys this game. I think we’re going to have to have everyone to come to play, come to rebound, come to fight, come to be Duke players.”
Bridges, from Flint, Michigan, leads MSU with 17.4 points and 8.7 boards a game. Duke’s leading scorer is sophomore Luke Kennard with 17.1.
MSU (4-3) opened its season with losses to Arizona (65-63) and Kentucky (69-48). The Spartans have won four of their last five games.
“It’ll be a war here Tuesday night,” Krzyzewski said. “Tom’s (Izzo) team played a heckuva schedule. They’ve been hurt. They have two guys out. You’re playing against a program, not a team. They’re programmed to win and so are we.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Michigan State at Duke
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
When: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham