There were a lot of obnoxious clichés coming out of today’s game, but you truly have to respect the fact that it was Valentine’s Day.
There’s no other way to spin this game that would do it justice. Denzel Valentine is solidifying his spot as one of the nation’s best players, and on Sunday he proved why that’s true.
Valentine came out gunning, scoring 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting with five triples and 13 assists. The guy had just one turnover total, and it came midway through the second half. If that’s not Naismith padding, I don’t know what is.
His performance almost overshadowed Matt Costello, who dropped 22, shot 10-for-12, grabbed 11 boards … and hit a 3!
Also worth noting: Tum Tum Nairn is back. He hardly played and wasn’t a factor, but it’s perfect timing. You’ve got a couple lighter load games coming up before conference tournament play. You should get seven to eight games to work him in to the rotation, see what he can do and figure out where to go from here. That’s a lot of time for Tom Izzo to decide how much of a factor he can be in crunch time.
As for the game itself, it should not have gotten out of hand. The first 10 minutes were a see-saw. Indiana made its run – a two-minute 12-2 spurt midway through the first half. IU took a tied game and made it a 10-point affair.
But as we’ve learned about this team – especially against Purdue – is that it’s near impossible to get that kill shot. MSU outscored IU 18-7 to close the half. At one point, Valentine scored seven straight.
In total, Michigan State countered that Hoosier spurt by outscoring the team 65-36 the rest of the way. That’s against a solid IU team that doesn’t quite get the national credit it deserves.
It doesn’t make you forget the Purdue game, but it sure makes you feel better about it. There’s five games left on the schedule, and suddenly a team that has five conference losses could find itself right in the heart of the Big Ten standings come postseason play.