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Quotes: Duke 78, Michigan State 69
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 11/30/2016
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Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski
Opening Statement:
“Happy Wednesday and I hope your day starts off really good. That was a hell of a game tonight. Two great programs, not the only two great programs, but two of them and we expect something like this. Cameron was electric, it was so darn good and both teams responded to it. I could tell in the first half that they were the team that practiced, because we can hardly practice. Just so you know, Grayson (Allen) does not practice one second, so when he is out on that court, it is a gutty performance. That kid has played unbelievably, and he is limping. I got great guys. Matt Jones is a stud. His defense and heart today were magnificent. They run a really good, really good offense and it is obvious that they were trying to wear us out, and we were worn out at the end. We are just fortunate that we had the lead and our older guys know how to win when you are tired. They don’t give up the ship, the white flag doesn’t come up and God bless them. I have tough kids, I have really tough kids, and they beat tough kids. I thought that was the best I’ve seen Michigan State play. Again, Tom (Izzo) has talked about his team, but the kid (Miles) Bridges is a big, big time talent and I thought Matt (Jones) did a nice job on him. Defensively, especially in the second half, we were very good. We had that spurt where Luke (Kennard) hit a big three and we just went with Frank (Jackson) for three straight possessions and we just had a feeling like let’s go to him and he willed about six to seven points there. During that time, Matt (Jones) makes a good play at full court. They get it in so quickly, but he came back and then all of sudden (Miles) Bridges was in a precarious situation and passed the ball away and we scored and during that stretch it gave us a double-digit lead. It was a big time win for us. I’m really proud of my team, very proud of my team.”

On scoring stretch in second half:
“Well we had a spurt, so I don’t know if we smelled blood, but we smelled a spurt and then Cameron gets going. It was led by our freshman, but that was the key part of the game, there’s no question about that. Good stuff.”

On Matt Jones’ defense:
“He is one of the best defenders in the country and we put him on every outstanding player that we play against and no one ever notices that, I guess. But he has a spectacular two-point performance tonight. Great example for people playing any game is that when you are all about winning, you are really important, and Matt Jones is only about winning. He is a beautiful, beautiful kid and a great leader for us.”

On Luke Kennard’s performance:
“Luke (Kennard) has been healthy the last three weeks, he was walking around with a boot for six weeks because of his toe and he plays at a really good pace and he has been as consistently good as anyone on our team. And I’m not sure, people say he is taking advantage of an opportunity, but he is an opportunity, he is good. It’s not like he’s not good, he is really good and we have guys who are good who are out and that doesn’t mean he became good because they are out, he is good. I don’t know if I make sense, but he doesn’t need opportunity, he is good. He hit that big three. I wish he would shoot his three more, I think he and Grayson (Allen) pass up shots right now. We haven’t started shooting yet because we haven’t practiced and we need to in order to have that. But thank goodness they hit them when they count.”

On comfort placing burden on veteran players:
“Real comfortable, because they want it. Matt (Jones) and Amile (Jefferson) have been in over 100 games and those kids were on the court when we won a National Championship against Wisconsin. They’ve been in big time games. Remember you have Amile (Jefferson) who was on his way to having a great year last year, hurt, so he wants to take advantage. They’ve had adversity. Grayson (Allen), up until the end of his freshman year, averaged eight minutes per game. Matt (Jones) was not a starter. They’ve earned it. It is not inherited wealth, let’s not put it that way, it’s stuff that they’ve earned. And it is a great environment for these young guys to be in with those three guys. And Luke (Kennard) has been just like that, too.”

Duke Graduate Student Amile Jefferson
“All our guys know it’s next man up, and we have this inner toughness, a toughness of the heart and the spirit more than physical, and our guys have always come ready to play.  I thought our guys did a great job of being connected, in the second half especially.  And playing six guys is never going to be easy, but guys have to always be tough, and I thought our veterans, Grayson [Allen], Matt [Jones], even Luke [Kennard], leading us today was unbelievable.”

On Duke’s defense tonight:
“I think you could feel it in the second half.  In the second half, our energy just picked up.  Matt [Jones] did an amazing job.  I keep coming back to that – his defense was unbelievable.  He scores two points and probably has one of the biggest impacts on the game.  To me, he’s been the best defender in the country.”

“We believe in our group.  We believe with the group we have that we’re one of the best teams in the country.  And when our guys get healthy, when everybody starts to come around, when Grayson [Allen] gets to 100%, on the tail-end of it, we’ll be a better team.  Those guys are getting close.  Our team is hungry, so no matter who we put out there, we’re a hungry team right now.”

On his recording another double-double:
“I’m just out there fighting.  For me, I’ve got to do a better job of finishing.  I think I left too much out there but I’m just fighting for my team, so to have a double-double is great, but I’ll take whatever I can get as long as we get the win and as long as I feel like I’m out there fighting for our group as hard as Grayson [Allen] and Matt [Jones].”

Duke Senior Matt Jones
“Guys are taking pride on [the defensive] end.  We could’ve caved in and bought into fatigue and things like that but we didn’t, and I’m so proud of Luke [Kennard] and G [Grayson Allen] and Amile [Jefferson].  We just have anchors back there, guys that want to win, and ultimately that prevailed for us.”

“We know we can score.  We couldn’t make shots in the beginning – I still couldn’t make a shot.  But when guys start hitting shots, our eyes widen.  We knew we were going to get stops but now since our jumpers were going, we could be a really scary team and we know that.”  

“Cameron was prime [tonight].  Cameron was great and special and you wanted to be a part of that game.  I’m so grateful to be a part of that game.  [The Cameron fans] are definitely like a sixth man to us.  We felt the energy, especially coming off a subpar performance in the first half.  They definitely carried us in the second [half].”

“I think we’re growing as a team, especially winning that game.  It’s definitely a confidence booster.  We just have to keep it going.”

“Me and G [Grayson Allen], and Amile [Jefferson], we talk all the time about how many situations we’ve been in – losing in the first round [of the NCAA Tournament] with me and Amile, winning the [NCAA] Championship, Sweet Sixteen.  So there’s no situation we haven’t been in.  For us, we’ve always remained confident. It’s just that now guys like Frank [Jackson] and other guys are tagging along and doing their thing, and it’s making us look really good right now.”

Duke Junior Grayson Allen
“I think we came out in the second half pretty strong. It started with that run that all started with Matt’s [Jones] defense.  Matt did a tremendous job all game and he really gave us energy in the start of that second half.  Not only on the defensive end but on their inbounds too, I think he disrupted one of them and got a turnover, and that got the crowd into it and really turned it around for us.”

When asked what head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s message to the team was in the locker room at halftime:
“He wanted us to come out energetic and he told me, Luke [Kennard], and Matt [Jones] to keep shooting the ball, keep letting it go.  And that’s what we did in the second half, and I think we came out with a lot of energy.  We didn’t come out flat.  That’s been an emphasis for us all year – come out in the second half and start our run and don’t let them go on a run.”

On how the game changed when Duke made its run to create some separation in the second half:
“Playing at home, whenever we go on a run like that in Cameron, you get the crowd behind you and that’s a huge boost.  It’s great for us to hear that, it gives us energy, the whole place is full of energy, and our crowd was tremendous tonight.  They were so loud during that run.  In the huddle, we’re having to get one inch from Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] just to hear him.  Our crowd was tremendous.”

Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo
Opening Statement:
“Well, I’m disappointed that we let an opportunity kind of go in that two-minute stretch when it went from tied to nine down and I thought that was the big turning point in the game. A couple bad plays on our part, a couple of turnovers, I think they had 15 points off turnovers the second half and you know it’s been the nemesis for us all year, a couple impatient bad shots. They did, Duke did, a nice job doubling the post and I didn’t think we handled that very well. We did a lot of things that were pretty good, we rebounded decent, did a decent job of defending them without fouling too much. I thought we did a decent job defensively. I did not think our offense, other than our fast break, was very good. I just got a lot of standing around, no movement. So, all in all, Duke’s got a very good team and it’s going to get a lot better when they get the rest of their players back. I don’t know if we did a decent job on [Grayson] Allen or if he’s still struggling a little bit, shot better from the three tonight, but he’s a hell of a player. Now they’ve mixed and matched and they’ve got a nice team. I thought we played probably 33-34 minutes of good basketball, but you aren’t beating good teams, especially on the road, I should say great teams, I think he’s got a great team. You’re not beating them on the road if you don’t play all 40 minutes and that has been a problem for us. So, we’re just going to have to go back to work. We did make some progress tonight. We played harder. A pretty good first half considering we didn’t move the ball on offense and that was the biggest negative for me tonight. We just really didn’t move the ball well, a lot of standing, a lot of one on one, except on our break. I thought we were very, very good on our break.”

On the inconsistency of a young team:
“No, I’m not going to deal with it. I’m very disappointed because the mistake he [Nick Ward] made on the other end when he got double teamed, we had just come out of timeouts. He’s got to play better. Miles [Bridges] has to play better. Cassius [Winston], we’ve got to quit turning it over. So, yeah, those are all freshmen, but you know, eight games in now, played a lot of minutes. It’s time to quit making excuses for the freshmen. They’ve got to start playing.”

On the importance of a veteran core:
“It really does. I mean, he’s got a nice core there. Grayson Allen was the one that destroyed us in Indianapolis when he was a freshman. He hadn’t played all year and he came in and destroyed us in that Final Four game. I really like the job [Amile] Jefferson has done. He just kind of quietly does his job, but he’s a fifth-year guy. I thought that was illegal down here, but he’s done a nice job of that. He really has, give him a lot of credit. Matt Jones, another guy, those are the warriors; those are the guys that have been through it. He didn’t shoot it real well tonight, but did a lot of good things defensively. There’s a lot of prep work to dealing with those guards at Duke and any time you deal with them, then all of the sudden. I think you’ve got to give Jefferson, to me, he has been a key guy for them right now. I think he does a lot of quiet, good things and I really like him.”