East Lansing, MI
The Michigan State Spartans were red hot shooting the ball against Northwestern from long range and that success never stopped tonight. The Spartans tied the school record for three pointers in a game with 17. MSU took command immediately and improved their season record to 19-4 (6-4) with a 96-62 win over the B1G bottom feeders in Rutgers.
Denzel Valentine led the way for the Spartans scoring 20 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Bryn Forbes had 18, Matt Costello dropped in 12 points and 13 rebounds. Rounding out the double digit scores was Eron Harris who had 14.
The Spartans continued their unselfish streak when they had 13 assists on 24 baskets. MSU also won the boards 56-27 and while leading in the turnover department, that stat was deceptive. Many of those turnovers came late with substitutes in the game.
We can’t fool ourselves when you look at back to back dominating wins over lowly competition, but considering this three game streak started against Maryland you can appreciate MSU has their foot on the gas. This team is not playing down to the level of competition.
Tom Izzo said of the contest, “Excited and disappointed. As soon as you make some shots I guess you decide you don’t want to guard anybody. Out rebounding them was a plus and making those shots, two games in a row. Some of those guys that shot threes didn’t guard anybody. I have been on Denzel Valentine about a player coached team and he saved me today. I didn’t have to say much in those huddles. He saw some things he didn’t like and he got on some people.”
Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan said, “Wonderful atmosphere. My first time being here. I told the kids what to expect. As usual their size and flow of the game wore us out. Every game is a tough game. We loved the atmosphere and the competition. Hopefully this time next year we are singing another tune.”
How dominating where the Spartans? The game was never tied after 0-0 to start and MSU lead for 39:29 of the 40 minute game. MSU also played 16 different players and had 12 of them score. The Spartans continued their unselfish play getting 28 assists on 33 baskets.
Tum Tum Nairn who has been out injured finally had his boot taken off. Izzo said, “I have no idea,” on an expected return. He will know in a couple days if he could be back for this weekend vs. Michigan. He also added that it could be soon or as long as three more weeks before he returns.
Jordan who came to Rutgers from the NBA said of Valentine, “Sort of a guy that does everything well. He is a good teammate and they rally around him. He is a good player and does everything pretty well across the board.”
The Spartans return to action this coming Saturday, February 6 in Ann Arbor at the Crisler Center taking on arch rival Michigan. That is a 2PM tipoff that can be seen on CBS.