It’s Denzel Valentine’s Day as Spartans squeak by Buckeyes

There was no love lost on this afternoon’s Valentine’s Day showdown in East Lansing between the Michigan State Spartans and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The two rivals met for a pivotal Big Ten conference game in their only matchup in the season. A typical Big Ten back-and-forth struggle took place as Michigan State was able to get by the Buckeyes thanks to a big game from guard Denzel Valentine.

Valentine scored the go-ahead three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left, effectively putting an arrow through the hearts of Ohio State players and fans and resulting in a 59-56 Spartan victory. Valentine scored had a game-high 17 points to go along with 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Arguably their best player and most versatile, Valentine can can fill up a box score on any given night. Teammate Branden Dawson chipped in with another double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Guard Travis Trice recorded 9 points and also 5 assists while backcourt mate Bryn Forbes remained relatively quiet, pulling down just 3 rebounds and dishing 1 assist.

The Spartans got an unexpected and strong showing from freshman guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn, Jr., as he played 36 minutes (2nd highest on team) and recorded 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Tum Tum started in place of Trice, who has been on and off while he continues to deal with a sore shoulder. Forward Matt Costello also had a solid game in the paint, chipping in with 9 points and 5 rebounds.

A significant momentum shift came when Dawson connected on two free throws with 3:18 to go in the game to put Michigan State up by 3. ESPN’s cameras found head coach Tom Izzo all fired up and excited to see a player on his team convert free throws, which has been undoubtedly the Achilles’ heel for his Spartans basketball team this season.

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Meanwhile, Ohio State provided a well-balanced scoring attack. Freshman star D’Angelo Russell had 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. The leading scorer for the Buckeyes was senior guard Shannon Scott, who tallied 15 points. Returning from his suspension after three games, Buckeyes forward Marc Loving scored 5 points off the bench.

Up next for each team: both squads will take turns with the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan State heads to Ann Arbor on Tuesday, 9 P.M. on ESPN while the Buckeyes will face the Wolverines next Sunday at 1 P.M.

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