East Lansing, MI
The Michigan State Spartans came back to the friendly confines of the Breslin Center today and downed former Izzo assistant and current Indiana Hoosier head coach Tom Crean 88-69. The Spartans record on the season improves to 21-5 (8-5) as senior player of the year candidate Denzel Valentine paced the Spartans with 30 points, five rebounds and 13 assists.
While the Spartans welcomed back LouRawls Tum Tum Nairn (Out since January 14) who played two minutes all in the first half, they also suffered a terrible loss of F Kenny Goins. He went down in the 1st half and was helped out of the arena (putting no pressure on his left knee) and never returned.
Izzo said of Goins injury that, “I think we might lose Kenny Goins, it looks like a bit of a meniscus.” Is that a sure thing? “No. I just heard they were a little worried about his meniscus.” Izzo also said of Nairn’s return that, “I said we would try to play him a little bit and we did. We need to get him back, but he hadn’t practiced more than a half a practice in a month. Hope to get back to where it was in December where he played and didn’t practice.”
Crean said of the contest that, “Michigan State played outstanding. The markers of the game that we said couldn’t happen, happened. Their field goal percentage was fantastic because we gave up too many fast break baskets. They are pretty good when not comfortably, but that much better when they are. Their break was so good.”
The Spartans saw great play from all of their seniors. Bryn Forbes added 14 points and Matt Costello contributed career high 22 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, garnering the double double. Izzo said of Costello’s great game that, “"For a guy who doesn't jump that high, he blocks a lot of shots. He's got good timing." Both joined fellow senior Denzel Valentine in the double digit scoring column as mentioned previously.
This game was about transition and MSU took care of business. They pushed the ball at every opportunity for an IU defense that at times is lackadaisical getting back. On the boards roared back after being down at halftime to lead 37-34. MSU again had an amazing and unselfish 27 assists on 34 baskets. The Spartans had a 22-9 scoring advantage on the fast break.
Izzo said of the contest that, “Gary Harris (Denver Nugget starting guard back for the game due to the NBA All Star break) said it best that you have to schedule more games on Valentine’s Day for Valentine. I am a little disappointed in him that he isn’t rebounding as well now. We beat a very good team today. The way they played the first half we didn’t guard and they did. I thought our defense made our offense go. Second half we played extremely well on defense and that helped out our offense. It was a helluva game.”
The Spartans dominance was reflected in the fact that 15 players saw action for Izzo today. Nine of them scored.
The Spartans will return to action on Thursday night at 9PM when they tip off against Wisconsin right here at the Breslin. That game will be seen on ESPN or ESPN2. That decision has not been made as of yet.