Denzel Valentine

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine tweets support for Buddy Hield

3 Comments

To say that things didn’t go as planned for No. 2 Oklahoma on Saturday would be a major understatement. The Sooners couldn’t get much going offensively and they had an even tougher time defensively as they lost 95-51 to No. 2 Villanova. Of course with social media being what it is today this opened the door for the “crying Jordan” memes, one of which being the head being attached to the body of dancing Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Buddy Hield, who’s won multiple national Player of the Year awards over the last few days, scored just nine points and shot 1-for-8 from three against a Villanova defense geared towards slowing him down. A bad night in the most important game of the season can led to some ignoring the overall body of work, but Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine was quick to remind people of what Hield’s managed to do this season.

Valentine’s been right there with Hield when it comes to the national Player of the Year awards, and with good reason. They’ve been the two best players in college basketball this season, and an off night for either doesn’t change that.

h/t For The Win

Valentine leads No. 2 Michigan St. past Ohio St. 81-54

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Big Ten player of the year Denzel Valentine scored 19 points and Eron Harris added 13 to help No. 2 Michigan State blow out Ohio State 81-54 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Friday night.

The Spartans (27-5) have won 11 of 12 and will face either Nebraska or No. 18 Maryland in Saturday’s semifinal.

JaQuan Lyle had 10 points to lead the Buckeyes (20-13), who have lost three of five and must wait until Sunday to see if they’ll get in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State thought one more impressive win could be enough.

But Valentine refused to let it happen against the Spartans. He scored 10 points in an early 13-3 run, made a 3-pointer during an 8-0 run to start the second half and finished with nine rebounds and eight assists.

Michigan State led by as much as 28 in the second half. The Buckeyes couldn’t get closer than 14 after that.

Valentine may have gotten a triple double – if coach Tom Izzo hadn’t pulled him from the game with 5:28 to play so he could get some extra rest before the weekend.

The short-handed Buckeyes just couldn’t stay with the deeper Spartans and it was evident from start to finish.

Michigan State jumped to a 17-7 lead in the first 6 1/2 minutes and still led 33-26 at halftime.

The early run in the second half gave the Spartans a 41-26 lead. Bryn Forbes’ 3-pointer with 13:07 left extended the lead to 20 and the Spartans continued pulling away late.

SHUT OUT

While it was a rough night by every measure for the Buckeyes, their most obvious problem was the inability to make 3s. Ohio State missed its first 12 shots from beyond the arc and didn’t end the drought until Lyle made one with 74 seconds to play. Ohio State finished 1 of 13, while the Spartans were 8 of 23.

TIP-INS

Buckeyes: Have lost five straight in the Michigan State series. … Ohio State has played five games against teams that reached last year’s Final Four and is now 1-4, losing three times to Michigan State in 17 days, once to Wisconsin. The lone win came against Kentucky in December. … The Buckeyes lost for only the fourth time in their last 19 Big Ten tourney games.

Spartans: Are one win away from playing for their third consecutive Big Ten tourney title in Indianapolis. … Matt Costello had no blocks and remains tied with Adreian Payne for second on Michigan State’s career list with 141. Branden Dawson has the school record, 142. … The Spartans improved to 91-35 in March games since 1998-99.

UP NEXT

Buckeyes: Will await postseason fate.

Spartans: Face either No. 18 Maryland or Nebraska in Saturday’s second semifinal.

No. 6 Michigan State beats Penn State 88-57 after slow start

AP Photo/Al Goldis
Leave a comment

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Tom Izzo has been telling his players when they’re not making shots that defense and rebounding can win games, especially in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 6 Michigan State showed that against Penn State on Sunday.

Denzel Valentine started slow and finished strong with 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help the sixth-ranked Spartans beat the Nittany Lions 88-57.

Valentine missed his first six shots as Michigan State was off to a 3-of-15 shooting start.

“Our defense and rebounding kept us in the game and that’s the way we have to win as we move forward,” Izzo said. “It makes me feel like they’re listening.”

The Spartans (24-5, 11-5 Big Ten) have won four straight and eight of nine, outscoring teams by 21-plus points in those victories and losing only to then-No. 18 Purdue by one point in overtime on the road during the stretch.

“I think we’ve got a chance to make a run,” Izzo said.

Penn State had been on a relatively successful run recently.

The Nittany Lions (15-14, 6-10) had won three straight and four of five, including victories over then-No. 4 Iowa and then-No. 22 Indiana.

“We were hopeful to put up a fight at least,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “And, we didn’t do that.”

Chambers did his part by being feisty.

He was ejected with 4:53 left in the first half when he was called for two technical fouls within the same rant. Chambers had to be held back by his coaching staff, two assistants at one point, as he tried to charge toward officials more than once before leaving the court. After Chambers was ejected, he started to gather his team for some parting thoughts before he tried to go back at the officials.

“We’re trying to buck the system of being the brunt of everybody’s jokes,” Chambers said. “So we’re going to fight, players are going to fight.”

After the Spartans’ miss-filled start, they connected on 14 of 18 shots.

“We played hard with energy and effort,” Valentine said.

Despite making just 37 percent in the second half, they easily maintained their comfortable cushion.

“Michigan State is playing at an incredible level,” Chambers said.

Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis and Bryn Forbes scored 15 points each and Matt Costello had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Shep Garner had 22 points and Devin Foster scored 11 for the Nittany Lions during a game in which their respect for Chambers grew.

“I love it when Coach comes out and battles for us,” Garner said. “That’s what he does. He puts his neck on the line.”

TIP INS

Penn State: Brandon Taylor entered the game as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. He fouled out with 7:20 left in the game with as many fouls as he had combined points (2) and rebounds (3). The 6-foot-6 senior forward, who shared Big Ten player of the week honors on Monday, was averaging 16.6 points and 6.6 rebounds. Taylor had scored in double digits the previous 16 games, including 24- and 18-point outputs against the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes. … While Chambers was kept away from the court in the second half, one of his assistants was called for a technical foul.

Michigan State: Valentine, a national player of the year candidate, has a chance to become the first player in at least three decades to average 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He entered the game averaging nearly 20 points, seven-plus rebounds and more than seven assists per game. The NCAA began keeping assists as an official statistic during the 1983-84 season.

UP NEXT

Penn State hosts Northwestern on Thursday.

Michigan State plays at Rutgers on Wednesday.

Online:

http://collegebasketball.ap.org/

Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage and follow his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/larry-lage

NEW PODCAST! Duke/Carolina, top five teams and a weekend preview

Leave a comment

It’s Friday, which means time for another episode of the NBC Sports College Basketball Talk Podcast. Host Rob Dauster and Raphielle Johnson got together to discuss some of the major happenings from this week, most notably No. 20 Duke’s win at No. 5 North Carolina.

How concerned should we be about the Tar Heels, especially their guard play? What can Duke do to keep this run going with another player (Matt Jones) being lost to injury?

Also discussed are the three other losses taken by teams ranked in the Top 5 this week, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 Iowa and No. 5 Maryland. Which one has the biggest issues to deal with in regards to preparing for a run in the NCAA tournament? There’s also chatter about whether or not a certain Kentucky Wildcat deserves to be in the national Player of the Year conversation, which Big East team is best equipped to play deep into March (Villanova or Xavier?), and some of the big games on the schedule for this weekend.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher. Or if you so choose, just click the “play” button on the audio player below. Thanks for listening!

Valentine-led No. 8 Michigan State beats Wisconsin 69-57

AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
Leave a comment

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Denzel Valentine had 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, leading No. 8 Michigan State to a 69-57 victory over Wisconsin on Thursday night.

The Spartans (22-5, 9-5 Big Ten) went from eighth place in the conference into a four-way tie for fourth with their sixth win in seven games.

Michigan State’s Bryn Forbes scored 17 points and Eron Harris had 10.

The Badgers (16-10, 8-5) had won seven straight games dating to their victory Jan. 17, at home against Michigan State.

Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ scored 18 points and Bronson Koenig had 12 with a scoring surge late in the game. Nigel Hayes was held to a season-low five points, 12 below his team-high scoring average, for the Badgers.

The Valentine-led Spartans took control early and never gave up the lead. Valentine had three assists and two points 3:13 into the game, helping Michigan State take a 10-3 lead. He assisted on or scored every basket for the Spartans when they built a 23-10 lead. The senior guard had nine points and seven assists in 17 minutes, helping Michigan State to a 32-23 halftime lead.

The Spartans started the second half strong, building a 13-point lead on Matt Costello’s dunk off an assist from Valentine. They didn’t have much trouble keeping a comfortable cushion against a team that was coming off a 13-point victory on the road against then-No. 2 Maryland, one of three ranked teams it beat during the seven-game winning streak.

TIP-INS

Wisconsin: Koenig extended his streak with a 3-pointer to 37 games, but didn’t do much else for the Badgers until late in the game when it was out of reach. … Happ had a strong showing after the freshman was held to single digits in three of the previous four games, including scoring a total of six points combined in the previous two.

Michigan State: The Spartans hosted Wisconsin in their only game during an eight-day stretch that will give coach Tom Izzo a chance to fine tune his team toward the end of the regular season. … Michigan State matched its lowest scoring total since Jan. 2 when it scored 69 points in a win at Minnesota.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin hosts Illinois on Sunday.

Michigan State is at Ohio State on Tuesday.

Online:

http://collegebasketball.ap.org/

Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage and follow his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/larry-lage

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Minnesota stuns No. 6 Maryland

AP Photo/Jim Mone
Leave a comment

GAME OF THE NIGHTMinnesota 68, No. 6 Maryland 63

Minnesota picked up its first conference win of the season, stunning the Terrapins in Minneapolis. Joey King, who hit some big free throws late, scored 15 points off the bench with Nate Mason accounting for 18 points and six assists and Jordan Murphy 17 points. Maryland played without the suspended Diamond Stone, and Melo Trimble once again struggled. If not for Rasheed Sulaimon (28 points), the margin could have been worse.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Connecticut 68, No. 21 SMU 62: The Huskies, who appeared to be in good shape in regards to the NCAA tournament, picked up a quality win at home as they outlasted the Mustangs in Hartford. Amida Brimah was good on both ends of the floor, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks, and Shonn Miller added 12 and seven caroms. SMU, which shoots 52.6 percent from two, made just 40 percent of those looks thanks in large part to Brimah’s play in the middle for UConn.

No. 8 Michigan State 69, Wisconsin 57: The Spartans ended the Badgers’ seven-game win streak, with Denzel Valentine playing a key role. Valentine finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and ten assists to lead the way for Michigan State, with Bryn Forbes adding 17 points. Ethan Happ scored 18 points and Bronson Koenig 12 for Wisconsin, but an off night from Nigel Hayes spelled doom for the visitors.

No. 14 Kentucky 80, Tennessee 70: No. 14 Kentucky avenged its loss at Tennessee earlier this season with an 80-70 win over the Vols in Lexington. Jamal Murray scored 28 points and Derek Willis 25 for Kentucky, which currently leads the SEC. John Calipari’s team has been playing very good basketball of late, and the emergence of Willis is one of the reasons why.

THURSDAY’S BUBBLE BANTER

STARRED

Jamal Murray and Derek Willis, Kentucky: Both players shot 8-for-12 from the field, with Murray scoring 28 points and grabbing nine boards in the win over Tennessee. Willis has really emerged in recent weeks, and he added 25 points while shooting 7-for-11 from three.

Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: 24 points, seven rebounds and ten assists in the Spartans’ win over Wisconsin.

Joel Bolomboy, Weber State: 34 points and ten rebounds in the Wildcats’ win at Southern Utah.

STRUGGLED

Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin: Hayes scored five points, shooting 1-for-13 from the field, in the Badgers’ loss at No. 8 Michigan State.

CJ Wiggins, North Carolina Central: Wiggins shot 1-for-9 from the field in the Eagles’ 71-60 loss at Coppin State.

Kevin Johnson, Cincinnati: Johnson scored two points on 1-for-7 shooting as the Bearcats lost by two at Tulsa.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • UNCW’s 11-game win streak came to an end, as the Seahawks lost 87-69 at William & Mary. Kevin Keatts’ Seahawks are still on top of the CAA standings with a record of 12-3, one game ahead of second-place Hofstra.
  • In a matchup of two of the better teams in the Atlantic Sun, reigning league champ North Florida blitzed NJIT by the final score of 107-71. Demarcus Daniels scored 25 points and Dallas Moore added 21 and 11 boards for the Ospreys, who ended their four-game losing streak with the win.
  • UNC Asheville and Winthrop are tied for first in the Big South, as both teams picked up wins Thursday night. The Bulldogs rebounded from a 19-point first half to win by nine at Presbyterian, and Winthrop beat Coastal Carolina by 12 at home.
  • Wichita State retained its two-game lead atop the Missouri Valley with a 99-68 beating of Missouri State. Zach Brown scored 16 points and Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker added 15 apiece for the Shockers, who are now 13-2 in league play.
  • In a matchup of two of the four teams that entered the night tied atop the NEC standings, Wagner won 94-74 at Fairleigh Dickinson. Bashir Mason’s Seahawks are now in sole possession of first, as Mount St. Mary’s was upset by Central Connecticut State and Saint Francis (PA) lost to St. Francis-Brooklyn at home.
  • Chattanooga maintained its two-game lead atop the SoCon with an 85-59 win over VMI. The Mocs scored 52 first-half points against the Keydets.
  • Little Rock moved to 13-2 in Sun Belt play with a 57-49 win at Georgia State. The Trojans limited the Panthers to 5-for-22 shooting in the second half, and Lis Shoshi finished the game with 11 points and 16 rebounds.
  • Marshall took care of Charlotte, 87-72, thus remaining a game behind UAB in the Conference USA standings. Marshall and Middle Tennessee are both 10-3 in league play, with the Blue Raiders taking on UAB Sunday.
  • IPFW moved into sole possession of first place in the Summit League with a 91-79 win over South Dakota State. Max Landis and John Konchar scored 22 apiece for the Mastodons, with Konchar also grabbing 12 rebounds.
  • Belmont moved to 11-3 in OVC play with an 86-78 win at Eastern Kentucky. Craig Bradshaw finished with 33 and seven boards for the Bruins, who host 10-3 Tennessee Tech on Saturday.
  • Gonzaga beat Pacific 90-68, moving to 13-2 in the WCC. Kyle Wiltjer and Damontas Sabonis combined to score 49 points, with Sabonis adding ten rebounds. The Bulldogs are a game ahead of Saint Mary’s, who they host Saturday night.
  • Tulsa nearly threw away the game with a turnover in the final seconds of overtime, but a Cincinnati three missed the mark as the Golden Hurricane won 70-68. The loss makes Saturday’s game against UConn even bigger for the Bearcats, who are squarely on the bubble.
  • New Mexico State retained its lead atop the WAC with a 63-55 win over CSU Bakersfield. The Aggies hold a one-game lead on Grand Canyon in the standings.
  • Weber State moved into a tie for first in the Big Sky with an 87-83 win at Southern Utah. Joel Bolomboy led the way with 34 points and ten rebounds.
  • A Joe Rahon shot in the final seconds gave Saint Mary’s a two-point win at Portland. With their résumé not having much from a non-conference standpoint, the Gaels can’t afford any missteps down the stretch.
  • Utah picked up its first win at UCLA in 55 years as they held off the Bruins 75-73. Jordan Loveridge led the way for the Runnin’ Utes with 17 points.
  • Stacy Davis became Pepperdine’s all-time leading scorer as he scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough for the Waves to avoid an 82-72 home loss to San Francisco.
  • Stefan Jankovic scored a career-high 34 points as Hawai’i remained alone atop the Big West with a 69-63 win at CSUN.
  • Cal hung on in the second half to pick up their second win away from Berkeley this season, 78-75 at Washington. Jaylen Brown and Tyrone Wallace combined to score 41 points for the Golden Bears.