Spartans rout Penn State 92-65 as Valentine returns
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Bryn Forbes' second half was not nearly as eventful as his first.
It didn't need to be. Not with leading scorer Denzel Valentine returning for No. 5 Michigan State and picking up the scoring pace at halftime in the Spartans' 92-65 win over Penn State on Sunday.
Forbes scored all 20 of his points in the first half, and Valentine had all 10 of his in the second as he came back after a four-game absence. Michigan State (16-1, 3-1 Big Ten) never trailed.
"It was just one of those games where Forbes caught on fire early," coach Tom Izzo said. "I thought our execution was really good early and that got us some big baskets that got us going."
Eron Harris and Gavin Schilling each scored 13 points, and Valentine heated up after missing all five of his first-half shots.
"Just got the jitters out and responded in the second half," Valentine said. "I felt comfortable."
Forbes was comfortable from the start. He hit three 3-pointers over the final 3:12 of the first half to give the Spartans a 40-27 lead. As Forbes got open and hit uncontested shots, Izzo challenged Valentine during stoppages.
"He just told me he was a little disappointed in me at first," Valentine said. "It's nothing new. He's done it before."
Valentine made his first basket just over six minutes into the second half. Valentine hit three of his next five shots, including a mid-range jumper with 7:22 to play to give the Spartans a 31-point lead, their largest of the afternoon.
Shep Garner scored 19 points for Penn State (10-7, 1-3). Julian Moore added 13 and Devin Foster had 12.
"That's a really, really good basketball team from top to bottom," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "Valentine back definitely inspired them and Forbes really set the tone for the first 20 minutes. He was unbelievable."
THE VALENTINE EFFECT
With Valentine out with a knee injury, the Spartans learned to play differently. Forbes and Harris did much more offensively.
"He's just one of those guys who can do so many things," Izzo said. "Maybe as good as can happen is we won 3 of 4, and we got some guys going a little bit that maybe wouldn't have been in the same boat."
Part of the team's offensive adjustment against Penn State was accounting for having Valentine back in the lineup, a player who can be unpredictable with the ball in his hands.
"It's tough to throw a player like me in where we've been playing with the same group for four games because I do some things and people may not be ready for," Valentine said. "So we have to get used to playing with each other. It only took a half."
Brandon Taylor has been Penn State's most consistent threat offensively and defensively all season. But Michigan State had a plan to keep the rangy forward in check.
Izzo deployed his "Adonis" -- Schilling -- who used his chiseled frame to keep Taylor away from the rim most of the afternoon. As a result, Penn State's leading scorer, who plays a versatile game inside and out, made just 3 of 12 field goals.
"Schilling was so good the first half defensively on Taylor," Izzo said. "He's got both size and speed and strength. That gives us another dimension defensively, that's for sure."
Michigan State: Izzo had plenty of chances to get all his players minutes. Only four -- Forbes, Harris, Valentine and Lourawls Nairn Jr. -- played more than 21 minutes, while all but two more played at least five minutes. Forbes played just nine minutes in the second half.
Penn State: Taylor was honored before the game as the latest member of Penn State's 1,000-point club. He entered the game with 1,030 career points and is 26th on the school's all-time scoring list.
Michigan State hosts Iowa on Thursday.
Penn State visits Purdue on Wednesday.