Coincidence? Denzel Valentine helps Spartans top Hoosiers 88-69

The Spartans' aptly-named Denzel Valentine proved too much for Yogi Ferrell and the Hoosiers to handle when Michigan State and Indiana squared off on Valentine's Day.  

Al Goldis/AP

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Denzel Valentine was calm on a court filled with relative chaos, taking shots when they were there and making passes when a teammate had a better look.

Valentine had 30 points, 13 assists and only one turnover to help No. 8 Michigan State pull away to beat Indiana 88-69 Sunday — Valentine’s Day.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo was told he should schedule more games on Valentine’s Day even though his star is in his last season of college eligibility. The national player of the year candidate, meanwhile, dismissed the significance of playing well on the holiday that bears his name.

"It wasn’t even about that," Valentine said. "It was just about getting the win. We lost Tuesday and felt we should’ve won that game."

The Spartans (21-5, 8-5 Big Ten) bounced back from a one-point loss in overtime at No. 18 Purdue with the win over Indiana.

Michigan State seniors Matt Costello scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Bryn Forbes had 14 points.

"Our three seniors were the difference in the game," Izzo said. "And, you hope that’s the way it’s supposed to be."

The Spartans, who trailed by 10 points 7:58 before halftime, closed the first half with a 9-0 run to take a one-point lead. They went on a 24-3 run to go ahead by 17 points midway through the second half.

"We just had to relax," Valentine said.

Valentine’s poised leadership proved to be pivotal.

"We didn’t put enough pressure on him," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "We didn’t make him uncomfortable."

The Hoosiers (20-6, 10-3) fell out of a tie for first place in the Big Ten with No. 4 Iowa, which they beat on the road on Thursday.

"We were better a few nights ago," Crean said. "Much better."

Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell had 14 points in the seven-point win over the Hawkeyes, but was limited to nine points against Michigan State. He was held to eight below his average and scored only one point more than his season low.

Eron Harris was one of the Spartans who were motivated to defend Ferrell.

"Everyone in the program challenged me saying, `You’ve got a big job to do,’" Harris said.

Crean didn’t criticize Ferrell, saying too few of his teammates had an impact on the game.

Max Bielfeldt scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half, Robert Johnson had 11 points and Thomas Bryant scored 10 for the Hoosiers.

Izzo praised Bielfeldt, who transferred to Indiana from Michigan.

"For a while, he was the best player on the floor," Izzo said.

TIP-INS

Indiana: As Ferrell goes, the Hoosiers follow. The Big Ten player of the year candidate could not drive into a defense that usually allows penetration and was 3 of 10 from the field, making only one of three 3-point attempts. Izzo said it was quite a feat to slow down Ferrell. "He’s become one of the greatest point guards in the whole country," Izzo said.

Michigan State: The Spartans lost a player, and got one back. Forward Kenny Goins left the game with an injured left knee in the first half and didn’t return. "I saw him on crutches," Izzo said. "It’s a shame because he’s been playing good." Point guard Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Jr. played 2 minutes in the first half, coming back from a foot injury that has kept him out since Jan. 14. Izzo hopes Nairn can rest when the team practices and play a little in games. "If we can get something out of him, 10 minutes a game, he’s willing to do that for us," Izzo said.

UP NEXT

Indiana hosts Nebraska on Wednesday.