If you ever wondered what it is like to be the MSU basketball team itâ€™s simple, the #1 Spartans received a rock star welcome to Boston and they rewarded their throngs of supporters with a 78-58 blowout of lowly Northeastern. The Spartans looked like and played like the nationâ€™s best team and Spartan senior guard Denzel Valentine played like the nationâ€™s best player on the best team.
The chowder must have sat well with Valentine has he led the Spartans with 17 points, grabbing five rebounds while handing out six assists like Santa and grabbing two steals like the Grinch. MSU had 21 assists on 33 baskets and that wasnâ€™t as high (although still impressive) as they have done most of the year, but in contest they shot 60% and several times the Spartans had shots open that the defense didnâ€™t even push them to pass.
Bryn Forbes added 12 points and Lourawls Nair had 11 to round out the Spartans double digit scorers. Kenny Goins joined Valentine as the leading rebounder with five as well. The only downside of the evening (and you had to look hard) was the Spartans being outrebounded 35-33.
It was Bryn Forbes who dove on the floor that the Spartans used as a catalyst to come alive. The sold out Matthews Arena was already rocking, but against a lowly opponent teams often need a wakeup call and Forbes gave it. It sent the Spartans rock show to the ceiling as players and head coach Tom Izzo responded with rousing emotion. Valentine had a lot of respect for the crowd saying afterward that, “It was a good crowd, they brought a different type of energy that we haven’t seen all year, and it was the first time that it was basically us against the world,”
Forbes said of his head coach, â€œ”Hustle plays. Energy plays. That’s what he likes.” Heâ€™s is correct. Valentine put it into a little more somber tone saying, â€œIt took us a bit, but once we settled in, we started rolling.” Unlike Valentine Tom Izzo was more specific about the Forbes hustle play, “He’s doing more things, and we needed someone to light a match.”
For Izzo he had to find something to be critical of. Always pushing his teams to get more than they have, it was a stretch to find much to criticize. He simply said, â€œIf somebody would have asked me if I would have been satisfied with a 20-point win, I would been. I just didn’t think we played as well.”
The Spartans tied their best start in school history as they moved to 12-0. The last time the Spartans did that was the 2000-2001 season when they got their first loss vs. the Hoosiers of Indiana.
The Spartans will return to action to play Oakland on Tuesday at the Palace of Auburn Hills before starting the Big Ten schedule a week hence against Iowa.