The Michigan State Spartans got some terrible news on Monday when their senior superstar Denzel Valentine went under the knife for knee surgery. He’s expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
MSU closed out it’s non-conference schedule with the latest installment of their in-state bout with the Oakland Golden Grizzlies at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Spartans put their undefeated 12-0 record on the season, #1 overall ranking, and their 13-0 record all-time vs. Oakland on the line Tuesday night. Down as many as 15, they came roaring back in the second half, at one point going on a 24-8 run to take the lead late. Both teams displayed a terrific shooting performance.
40 minutes was not enough for MSU and OU but, in the end, Michigan State hangs on in overtime, 99-93, improving to a program-best 13-0 to start the season.
A host of Spartans needed to step up without ‘Mr. Everything’ Denzel Valentine, and that they did. Senior Bryn Forbes and junior transfer Eron Harris led the way for MSU with a combined 57 points. Forbes was 7-9 from 3-point range, while Harris was 11-15 from the free throw line. Senior Matt Costello chipped in with a double-double, 10 points and 11 rebounds and freshman Deyonta Davis had 11 points off the bench.
Oakland dropped 50 points on the Spartans in the first half and shot 50 percent from the floor. MSU tightened up its defense and held the Grizzlies to just under 35 percent by the end of the game. Junior guard Khalil Felder had a career game, posted a game-high 37 points and also had 9 assists. Felder came into tonight’s game third in the nation with 25.9 points per game.
Michigan State was up 6-5 less than two minutes into the contest. They would not lead again until the 9:21 mark in the second half. Oakland had a chance to tie and potentially take the lead with under ten seconds to go as Felder drove the lane and drew a foul. The basket did not go, but he made two clutch free throws to ultimate tie it and send it to the extra session.
The atmosphere at The Palace had the feeling of a NCAA Tournament game in March, a place MSU is a regular title threat and Oakland showed they can give a lot of teams fits and advance to the second weekend.
The 13 straight wins for MSU is the longest since the 2011-’12 season. They now have a week off before kicking off the conference schedule with a road game at Iowa on December 29th.