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WRGT-TV FOX 45 News :: Sports - Local Sports - Michigan St lacks balance, loses 81-61 in semifinals to Duke

Michigan St lacks balance, loses 81-61 in semifinals to Duke

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Denzel Valentine's start to the Final Four was the stuff of dreams - three quick 3-pointers and an early lead for Michigan State.

He spent the rest of the night looking at a wall of white jerseys.

Valentine finished with 22 points, but the Spartans fell flat after that bright beginning, losing 81-61 to Duke in Saturday night's national semifinal.

"They did a good job of taking me away," Valentine said. "I got hot, and they started denying a little bit, and started forcing us to take bad shots."

After looking so comfortable early on, Michigan State ended up shooting only 40 percent for the game. The Spartans missed 10 of their last 11 shots in the first half, a stretch they couldn't afford against the favored Blue Devils.

So Michigan State's season ended in the national semifinals, and the seventh-seeded Spartans (27-12) looked very much like the underdog at a Final Four that included them and three No. 1 seeds.

"We got beat. Unfortunately I thought Duke played awfully well, but I thought it wasn't one of our better games," said coach Tom Izzo, who is 1-9 against Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. "Give Duke credit, and give our seniors credit for getting us to a place that most people didn't think we'd get to."

The Spartans' run to the Final Four was built on tough defense and timely outside shooting, with Valentine and Travis Trice leading the way. There was never that much offensive balance - and there was none on Saturday.

Trice scored 16 points and Branden Dawson added 12, but Dawson shot only 5 of 12 from the field and was Michigan State's only real offensive threat inside.

Matt Costello scored six points for Michigan State, and nobody else had more than two.

"I think we got kind of frustrated the first half," Valentine said. "We didn't keep our cool a little bit. Led to turnovers and bad shots."

The Spartans could not have asked for a much better start offensively. Valentine made two quick 3s, then Trice added one and Valentine made another. Michigan State led 14-6 and was showing no sign of nerves. A couple of Spartans slapped the floor on defense - a gesture Duke helped popularize years ago, but one Michigan State has become fond of.

"I don't think we started the game out with the intensity that we needed," Duke guard Quin Cook said. "A couple times ... I tried to cheat a ball screen, and Trice and Valentine will make you pay."

It turned out the early advantage was the high point for the Spartans. For the rest of the half, the Blue Devils (34-4) always seemed to have an extra defender ready to cut off Valentine and Trice on the perimeter, practically daring anyone else on Michigan State's team to make a significant contribution.

"They were denying us on the wings, kind of turning us down. Any time they had an opportunity, they switched," Trice said. "That's what made it rough for us to get it on the wings."

With about a minute left in the half, Valentine was knocked to the floor near midcourt and got up limping. He played on, but by then that early groove he and his teammates were in was long gone.

While the Spartans struggled offensively, they had nobody who could match up well inside with Duke star Jahlil Okafor at the other end. And they couldn't keep the Blue Devils off the foul line. Duke went 27 of 37 on free throws, and Dawson, Costello and Gavin Schilling were all in foul trouble down the stretch.

"You know, you're not allowed to touch anybody anymore," Izzo said. "I was here when we had smash-mouth basketball. I totally agree, I don't think that's the right way to do it. But I also don't think, I don't think anybody wants to see the best players on the bench."
Michigan St lacks balance, loses 81-61 in semifinals to Duke

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Last Update on July 01, 2015 05:35 GMT

INDIANS-RAYS

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Danny Salazar pitched two-hit ball for 7 2-3 innings and the Cleveland Indians backed him with three home runs to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 Tuesday night.

Jason Kipnis, Giovanny Urshela and David Murphy homered for the Indians, driving in all six runs.

Salazar (7-3) retired the first 15 batters, the third time in the last six games that's happened to the Rays. Indians rookie Cody Anderson took a perfect game into the seventh Monday night and Toronto's Marco Estrada was perfect through the seventh last Wednesday.

Salazar walked Asdrubal Cabrera to open the sixth. After a double play, Curt Casali broke up the no-hit bid with a double.

Erasmo Ramirez (6-3) lost for the first time in six starts.

TWINS-REDS

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Torii Hunter homered again after a long delay at the start of the game, and Phil Hughes got his third straight victory, leading the Minnesota Twins to an 8-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

The start was delayed 2 hours, 1 minute because a storm was headed toward the ballpark. The storm dissolved on the way.

Hunter got the Twins going by hitting a solo homer in the first inning off Anthony DeSclafani (5-6), his fourth homer in the last four games. He later singled and doubled.

Eduardo Nunez had three hits, including an RBI single while Kurt Suzuki drove home two runs with a single during a four-run seventh inning as the Twins evened the interleague series.

BLACKHAWKS-BLUE JACKETS TRADE

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Blackhawks have traded forward Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a seven-player deal.

The 22-year-old Saad set career highs with 23 goals and 29 assists in 82 games this past season. The rugged winger then helped the Blackhawks to their third Stanley Cup title in six seasons.

Saad was eligible for restricted free agency, and Chicago is trying to manage its salary cap with twin extensions for captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane kicking in for next season.

The Blackhawks also sent forward Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta to the Blue Jackets for forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp and a fourth-round selection in the 2016 draft.

The 27-year-old Anisimov had seven goals and 20 assists in 52 games for the Blue Jackets last season.

CAVALIERS-MOVES

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert all received qualifying offers from Cleveland on Tuesday, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offers those players get from other clubs this summer.

Thompson is of particular importance to the Cavaliers, who went to the NBA Finals this past season. He has appeared in 308 consecutive games, has averaged 10.1 points and 8.4 rebounds over his career and saw his stock soar by averaging 9.6 points and 10.8 rebounds in this year's playoffs.

Dellavedova had big playoff moments, with seven double-figure games. Shumpert started 16 playoff games for the Cavs, who lost the finals to Golden State 4-2.

Also Wednesday, the Cavaliers said forward Mike Miller exercised his $2.85-million option for next season. Miller averaged 2.1 points in limited action this season.

NBA JERSEYS

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Stephen Curry has surpassed LeBron James for the most popular jersey in the NBA.

The Golden State Warriors star and league MVP topped the list of jersey sales in the NBA for the first time Tuesday. With teammates Klay Thompson ranking fifth and Draymond Green at No. 15, the Warriors also led the team-merchandise sales list during the playoffs.

James, who held the top spot at the end of the regular season, dropped to second. Chicago's Derrick Rose is third and Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is fourth.

Following the NBA champion Warriors on the team-merchandise sales list are the Cavaliers, Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.

The league based the rankings on overall sales on NBAStore.com from April through June.

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