With senior guard Denzel Valentine proving to be one of the nation’s top players at this early point in the season, the question for No. 3 Michigan State was who would step forward as a consistent supplementary option. Wednesday night another senior guard stepped up, as Bryn Forbes scored 20 points to help the Spartans come back and beat No. 24 Louisville 71-67 in East Lansing.
Forbes scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half, with Valentine scoring 15 points (25, five rebounds and seven assists for the game), shooting 4-for-7 from three against a Louisville defense that gave the Spartans trouble in the first stanza.
Louisville was able to use its length and athleticism in multiple defensive looks, as their press morphed into either man-to-man or a 2-3 matchup zone, disrupting the Michigan State offense as a result. Instead of exhibiting good shot discipline the Spartans hoisted up challenged jump shots, not breaking out of that habit until the latter stages of the half. That was good enough to trim Louisville’s margin to three, but they needed to be more consistent if they were to overtake the visitors.
Also of importance was to have some step forward alongside Valentine, who scored ten points but wasn’t able to create as much for others thanks in large part to the Cardinals’ defensive efforts.
Forbes has the ability to put points on the board, and for the second consecutive game he managed to provided needed scoring alongside Valentine. In two separate second-half stretches Wednesday night his shot-making served as the spark Michigan State needed, the second of which being three-pointers within the span of two minutes and thirty seconds with the last giving the Spartans a 58-56 lead.
There were other contributors to the win, with freshmen Kenny Goins (five points, 13 rebounds) and Deyonta Davis (nine points, six rebounds) being positive factors off the bench. But with Tum Tum Nairn and Eron Harris both struggling offensively, Michigan State needed someone to step forward alongside Valentine to do some of the “heavy lifting,” and Forbes was that man.
This performance is a nice follow-up to Forbes’ 18-point outing in Michigan State’s win over Providence Sunday night, and he’s now reached double figures in six of Michigan State’s eight games to start the season.
Valentine has proven himself to be one of the nation’s best players, and that will continue to be the case. But for Michigan State to make a run at conference and national titles others will need to step up and do so consistently. For most of the season Bryn Forbes has been one of those players, which is a positive sign for the Spartans as they look to win the program’s third national title.