DURHAM -- A brilliant performance by freshman point guard Kyrie Irving gave way to stellar 3-point shooting for Duke in the second half as No. 1 Duke remained undefeated with a huge nonconference win.
Four 3-pointers in a span of 3 minutes, 40 seconds helped the top-ranked Blue Devils open up a 10-point, second-half lead Wednesday night in an 84-79 defeat of No. 6 Michigan State at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the premier meeting of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The tenacious half-court defense of Michigan State (5-2) had the Spartans within 49-47 with 13 minutes remaining. But after an Irving free throw, Andre Dawkins drained a 3-pointer from the baseline as Cameron thundered with applause.
Kyle Singler made a pair of 3-pointers in 56 seconds, and Nolan Smith quickly added another. Duke led 64-54 with 8:07 remaining. Michigan State called timeout, but the Blue Devils were on their way to their second win over a top-10 team in eight days.
Duke defeated then-No. 4 Kansas State 82-68 on Nov. 23 in Kansas City, Mo.
The win provided some consolation for the ACC’s woes in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, which the Big Ten won 6-5. After falling in the first 10 made-for-ESPN Challenges with the ACC, the Big Ten has won two in a row.
Irving scored 18 of his 31 points in the first half for the Blue Devils (7-0). Smith added 17 points and Singler 15 for Duke.
Korie Luscious led Michigan State with 20 points.
In an electric atmosphere for one of the most highly anticipated nonconference games of the season, Michigan State struggled early, committing three of its 12 first-half turnovers in its first four possessions.
But the Spartans’ half-court defense was excellent on every Duke player except for Irving in the first half. Irving was sensational, scoring on drives to the basket, while getting fouled, and hitting a pair of 3-pointers before halftime en route to 18 first-half points.
Duke appeared to have a chance to break the game open in the first half after Irving hit a 3-pointer and Mason Plumlee dunked on a breakaway after a steal by Ryan Kelly for a 30-25 lead.
Singler squared up for a 3-point shot that would have been a dagger, but missed. Mason Plumlee failed to connect on a tip-in attempt, and then the opportunity was gone. Duke would not lead by more than five points for the rest of the half, and held a 38-34 advantage at the break after Irving passed to Dawkins for a reverse layup on a fast break that started with a Mason Plumlee steal.
Smith, who played just 12 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, sparked the Blue Devils early in the second half despite committing his third foul 58 seconds into the half. Smith pulled up off a cross-over dribble to sink a 3-pointer, then drove the lane for a layup and a 48-38 lead.
But Michigan State coach Tom Izzo called timeout and settled his team. Duke stumbled on offense, and when Durrell Summers made a 3-pointer on a possession the Blue Devils thought should have ended on a traveling violation that was not called, the Spartans trailed just 49-47.
Then it was Michigan State’s turn to go cold, and Duke’s turn to heat up from 3-point range.
Photo: Duke's Kyrie Irving (1) goes in for two of his game-high 31 points against Michigan State's Draymond Green (23) in the second half of play. CHUCK LIDDY - firstname.lastname@example.org