Bess, No. 13 Michigan St beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 92-46

BY foxsports • November 20, 2015

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) After watching his team score 46 points in the first half and 46 more after the break Friday night, coach Tom Izzo thought he'd seen two sides to No. 20 Michigan State.

''Funny game,'' Izzo said after a 92-46 romp over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. ''I'm trying to change the culture here. When you have a blowout in the first half, you should have the discipline to play the second half the same way. That was discouraging.''

Sophomore Javon Bess scored a career-high 16 points for the Spartans (3-0).

Denzel Valentine, the star of Tuesday night's upset over Kansas with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, had 11 assists.

''Every game has to be a championship game for us,'' floor leader Tum Tum Nairn Jr. said. ''Tomorrow is never promised.''

The Spartans promised that there wouldn't be a letdown after a 79-73 win over Kansas in the Champions Classic. They delivered on that pledge and built a 27-point lead by halftime.

Bryn Forbes scored eight points in the opening 1:42, including a 3 that helped spur a 16-0 run that made it 21-4.

Forbes had three quick 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. Matt Costello added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans.

Ghiavonni Robinson scored 24 for the Golden Lions (1-2).

''I was glad to see him play well,'' Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach George Ivory said of Robinson. ''He has been struggling the last two games offensively, but he does so well with his hustle and defense and leadership.''

Robinson shot 9 of 16 and made half of his eight 3-point tires. But Michigan State answered with nine 3s and dominated every phase of play.

''We knew Valentine was going to be a big contributor,'' Robinson said. ''But the 3s they had really hurt. That was a big thing we wanted to cut out.''

Bess was a big part of the early surge and freshman Matt McQuaid punctuated that run with a pair of 3-pointers. McQuaid stretched his streak this week to five in a row from long range.

The Spartans' dominance was most apparent with a 45-14 edge on the boards. They also had a 26-7 advantage in assists.

After assisting on 45 of 58 baskets against Florida Atlantic and Kansas, Michigan State made the extra pass on nearly every possession early and turned good shots into better ones.

''Denzel should've had five more assists,'' Izzo said after Valentine had seven points and was 1 for 8 from long range. ''He didn't look for his shot at all.''

Michigan State had 13 players score and only one was on the court for more than 22 minutes - Valentine played 28 minutes. Marvin Clark Jr., a projected starter, made his first appearance of the season and played five minutes.

''For three quarters of the game, we played awfully well,'' Izzo said. ''But the first 10 minutes of the second half wasn't very good.''

''Everyone is telling me about teams around the country that are getting beat,'' he said. ''So maybe I should shut my mouth, take a win and get ready to watch football.''

There's plenty of football to see - on Saturday, No. Michigan State plays No. 2 Ohio State.


Arkansas-Pine Bluff: Robinson, the team's top assist man in the first two games, turned into a scorer in the first half against the Spartans and never let up. He had nine of his team's 19 points in the first 20 minutes, three more than he averaged in a win at Seattle and a loss at Oklahoma State.

Michigan State: The Spartans pounded the glass from the opening minute and had a 22-7 rebound advantage at halftime. That shouldn't have been too surprising for a team that came in with an edge of plus-18.5 per game. That included a plus-10 performance against a bigger Kansas team.


Arkansas-Pine Bluff travels to Cincinnati for Sunday's first game in the on-campus phase of the Barclays Center Classic.

Michigan State hosts Eastern Michigan on Monday night before a Thanksgiving date with Boston College in the Wooden Legacy in Fullerton, California.

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