Michigan State beats Purdue to win Big Ten title
INDIANAPOLIS -- Denzel Valentine came to the Big Ten Tournament with two goals.
He wanted a championship trophy and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Now, second-ranked Michigan State will have to prove it deserved both.
Valentine finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and made all the big plays late to help the Spartans claim their fifth tourney crown with a 66-62 victory over No. 13 Purdue. Naturally, Valentine quickly shifted his focus to the Spartans next goal -- making a national championship run.
"If we come to play, I think we can beat any team in the country," Valentine said before learning the Spartans would be a No. 2 seed.
If he continues playing this way, there's no telling how far the Spartans (29-5) could go.
The Big Ten player of the year was even better over the last three days, flirting with a triple-double in all three games. He was the easy choice as the tourney's Most Outstanding Player.
Even coach Tom Izzo was impressed.
"He made some big shots at the end," Izzo said before the pep band started playing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" during the net-cutting ceremony.
But Valentine did much more than make shots.
He thwarted one of Purdue's runs by stripping the ball from Johnny Hill, driving the length of the court and drawing a foul. Then, after losing his balance on a drive, Valentine somehow flipped an alley-oop pass to Deyonta Davis almost from his knees for a dunk to make it 48-41.
After A.J. Hammons' dunk got the Boilermakers within 52-51 with 7:48 to go, Valentine grabbed a rebound off of his own miss and quickly found Bryn Forbes open for a 3-pointer.
And twice in the final minute, when Purdue had a chance to take the lead and tie the score, Valentine came up with the defensive rebounds to seal it.
It was that kind of weekend for the senior, who proclaimed Friday that the Spartans (29-5) were so angry about finishing second in the Big Ten standings that they were going to make up for it in the postseason.
Now they'll have to prove that the selection committee made a mistake by giving the Spartans a No. 2 seed.
Purdue (26-8) was led by Vince Edwards with 19 points while A.J. Hammons and Caleb Swanigan each had 11 as they helped the Boilermakers make a valiant rally after trailing 46-33 early in the second half.
The Boilermakers answered with eight straight points to cut the deficit to five before Valentine's pass for the dunk. They got as close as 62-61 when Rapheal Davis made two free throws with 2:50 to play before Valentine made a seemingly impossible 16-foot double-clutch jumper.
The Boilermakers didn't make another basket.
"We had a good fight to us today," coach Matt Painter said. "We had some plays there at the end where were attacking the rim, doing some good things and it just didn't go our way."
CITY OF CHAMPIONS
Indianapolis is becoming Michigan State's second home. Izzo won the national title here in 2000 and reached the last two Final Fours in town, too. Now, after the football team won the Big Ten title here in December and the women's basketball team reached last weekend's tournament title game, Izzo got his third straight Big Ten title when the tourney was played in Indy.
THREE FOR THREE
For the third consecutive day, the Boilermakers faced an opponent that was playing its third game in three days. After blowing out Illinois 89-58 in Friday's quarterfinals and pulling away from Michigan for a 76-59 win in the semifinals, their run came up short on their third game in three days.
Valentine was the only Michigan State player to reach double figures Sunday. But the Spartans had plenty of balance. Ten other players scored, led by Forbes, who had nine points, and Matt Costello, who had eight.
Purdue: Trailed for a combined total of 70 seconds in the tournament before Sunday. ... Half of Purdue's eight losses came in its own state, Indiana. The Boilermakers lost at home to Iowa, at Indiana and twice in Indy. ... Purdue was outrebounded for only the second time this season. Michigan State, which led the nation in rebounding margin, had a 41-31 edge.
Michigan State: Is 5-1 in Big Ten championship games and tied Ohio State for the most tourney titles. But the Buckeyes vacated their 2002 crown. ... The Spartans made eight 3-pointers to break the school's season record. The Spartans have 310, six more than the 2013-14 team. ... Costello blocked four shots to become the school's career leader with 145. He broke a tie for second with Adreian Payne (141) before passing Branden Dawson (142).