Julius Marble makes most of playing time with career-high 12 points in MSU's win over Duke

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Julius Marble had been playing well in practice, so well, in fact, that his coach told him he was earning himself more of a chance to get on the court.

But through two games, the sophomore big man had only played a total of five minutes.

So, that’s when Marble wandered into Tom Izzo’s office, trying to find out what he needed to do get more consistent playing time on deep team with four guys who could all stake a claim at the center spot.

Michigan State's Julius Marble finished with 12 points off the bench in Tuesday's 75-69 win over Duke.

“The last couple of weeks he’s been telling me I've been doing great in practice and I've been making strides and this and that,” Marble said. “I felt like if I’m making strides, I should get a little bit more minutes. So I talked to him about it and to try to see what I'm doing wrong, like what's keeping me off the court and stuff like that. He said it's just about managing rotations and getting other guys chances and he just told me to stay ready, and that's what I did.”

He was ready on Tuesday, providing a spark in the first half as No. 8 Michigan State shook off a poor start to beat No. 6 Duke, 75-69, in the Champions Classic at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.

Marble was the first big man off the bench and helped the Spartans erase a 10-point deficit on their way to halftime advantage and a second-half lead that grew to 16. Marble finished with a career-high 12 points in 12 minutes, another career high.

Eight of Marble’s points came in the first half as Michigan State seized control.

“We came out a little slow,” Marble said. “I don't know what it was, but I was in there saying, ‘Let’s not get punked. We’re getting punked right now. Let’s get back on defense and get some stops and let's get going on offense because they really couldn't guard us. We just kept taking bad shots and forcing things.”

The fact Marble was part of the rotation was the surprise. However, as Izzo told Marble, that rotation will change based on the opponent. Izzo also said, though, that Marble has been playing well, something that was important in his performance on Tuesday.

“He’s been on the scout team, and he's been so good on the scout team,” Izzo said. “He’s been our four man on the scout team and he’s really shooting the ball, he's moving his feet better, putting the ball on the floor better. … He’s been patient and this is going to be hard for some guys because certain nights certain guys aren't gonna play as much. Some of it will be the situation and some of it is when they get a chance, you’ve got to produce. That's the way it is in major college basketball.”

There’s no telling if Marble will keep getting consistent minutes. Odds are, as Michigan State prepares to host Detroit Mercy on Friday, that the playing time will fluctuate as Thomas Kithier, Marcus Bingham and Mady Sissoko get their shot, as well.

But for one night, Marble was putting it all together.

“This year I knew if I get the opportunity to just make sure I play my game and make sure I do whatever I need to do to help the team,” Marble said. “It is hard and it did take some learning, but I'm starting to figure it out a little bit and I want to make sure that I'm doing whatever I can to help the team win.”

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau