If Tom Izzo was afraid his team would have a letdown after beating Kansas on Tuesday, his fears were quickly allayed.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff just had to get out of the way of the Spartan freight train in the first half. Before most spectators were in their seats, it was 21-4 MSU. It didn’t get any better for the Golden Lions after that. They put up a better fight in the second half, outscoring State at one point, but the talent level was just too much for them. The Spartans steamrolled their way to a 92-46 victory.
Ghiavonni Robinson was the only bright spot for Arkansas-Pine Bluff. He played out of his mind, putting up 24 points on 9-16 shooting. His teammates were of little help, combining for only 22 points on 8-31 shooting
Senior Bryn Forbes was keyed in early on, scoring eight of State’s first 10 points. It wasn’t until the 3:43 mark in the first half that Arkansas-Pine Bluff eclipsed his point total. The Spartan lead grew to as much as 32 in the first half.
Eron Harris connected on his first three-pointer of the season in the first half, snapping an 0-6 streak. He made 133 from downtown in his two seasons with West Virginia.
Spartan fans were elated when Marvin Clark Jr. checked into the game early in the second half for the first time this season. He missed both exhibition games and MSU’s first two contests with a foot injury. Clark was originally expected to return around Thanksgiving.
Denzel Valentine continued to prove why he is the most well-rounded player in the Big Ten, flirting with yet another triple-double. Although he struggled from the field, shooting 2-9, he created opportunities for his teammates and never played selfishly. His final line was seven points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.
Speaking of unselfish basketball, the Spartans are sharing the rock better than nearly any team in the NCAA. They recorded an assist on 26 of 33 baskets (78.8 percent), almost exactly on par with their season pace. Eight players scored at least seven points for MSU.
Javon Bess turned in the best game of his young career. He looks to finally be settling in to the power forward role. He converted a few gorgeous and-one’s en route to a team-high 16 points. Frontcourt mate Matt Costello had an efficient night in the paint, scooping up 10 rebounds to accompany his 10 points. The Spartans as a team dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Golden Lions 45-14.