Denzel Valentine had 17 points and Bryn Forbes added 12 as No. 1 Michigan State moved to 11-0 with a 58-52 win over Florida on Saturday in East Lansing.
The Spartans made the plays they needed to make down the stretch to win, but they did not play all that well.
“I didn’t feel the best tonight. I played a pretty bad game for me,” Valentine said when interviewed on ESPN after the game. He finished shooting 5-for-17 from the floor with just two assists and two turnovers. “I hold myself to higher standards.”
“But credit to my teammates. Bryn Forbes was key down the stretch. Matt Costello played out of his mind. Tum-Tum (Nairn) made big defensive stops.”
The Spartans will remain the No. 1 team in the country when the new polls are released on Monday morning.
The real story of this game, however, was Florida, who looked, for the first time under new head coach Mike White, like a team that might actually make some noise in the SEC, mainly because they were able to put together this kind of performance despite getting just seven minutes out of John Egbunu, who fouled out.
Chris Chiozza had 11 points and three assists while Devin Robinson chipped in with 10 points and nine boards, but the guy that we need to take note of is Kasey Hill. A former five-star recruit, the junior was relegated to reserve duty today after struggling through the first month of the season and he put together his best game of the year. Hill had 13 points, six boards and four steals while shooting 5-for-11 from the floor and committing just a single turnover.
The key for Florida, who is now 6-3 on the season, will be whether or not they can build on this performance. With Texas A&M and Vanderbilt struggling a bit and Kentucky looking vulnerable, there is room in the SEC to make noise.