Michigan State relied on strong defense in the final 10 minutes and another solid effort from senior Denzel Valentine as the No. 2 Spartans held on for a 64-61 win over No. 18 Maryland in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.
With the win, Michigan State (28-5) moves on to Sunday’s Big Ten tournament title game, where they’ll take on Purdue in Indianapolis.
Valentine, the NBCSports.com Player of the Year, finished with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Spartans, who shot 42 percent from 3-point range (8-for-19) on the afternoon. Michigan State’s defense held Maryland’s offense to only one field goal in the final 10:27 of the game.
Maryland (25-8) couldn’t find a rhythm on offense for the final 10 minutes, but they were still in it until the final possession as their defense wasn’t too bad either. The biggest problem for the Terps continues to be that this team just can’t seem to play together and find any sort of cohesiveness. After Melo Trimble made a 3-pointer with 10:27 left, Maryland didn’t score another field goal until Trimble had a layup with 17 seconds left.
Trimble struggled to a 2-for-15 shooting game as he had 11 points while Robert Carter led Maryland with 18 points.
Although Valentine was big for Michigan State on Saturday, he had help from a balanced group as 10 different players scored for the Spartans. Matt Costello was the second highest on the team with 10 points.
Michigan State will get a chance for a little revenge against Purdue in the title game as the Spartans lost to the Boilers in overtime, 82-81, on Feb. 9. The Spartans are likely in strong position for a potential No. 1 seed and this one will mean more in terms of seeding implications for Purdue. But Michigan State will still have a lot of pride to win this tournament, especially since this group came up short of the Big Ten regular season title.