The Michigan State Spartans moved to 15-1 on the season after jumping on Illinois early.
Tom Izzo watched as four Spartans scored in double figures on the night led by Bryn Forbes, who's been picking up the slack in the absence of standout Denzel Valentine. However, Izzo is not sure if he’s seen the best of Forbes.
“I didn’t think Bryn had his best game,” said Izzo. “He can make shots, but he’s been playing a lot better defensively and he’s been rebounding better.”
One thing Izzo revealed following the game was just how close Valentine is in returning to the Spartans line up.
“Denzel practiced last night pretty well,” he said. “I thought maybe we were going to play him. In the walkthrough, he wasn’t his bubbly self, so I made a Mateen Cleaves decision not to play him. He could have played, wanted to play, but he wasn’t there yet.”
Forbes knows life without Valentine has allowed others to step forward, contribute and show what they can do.
“Matt Costello played well. Eron Harris played well, Tum Tum (Nairn) played well,” he said. “Everybody played well today. It was just nice to see that with Denzel out we were able to get a little more form everybody.”
Harris was the Spartans second leading scorer on the night with 13 points while Costello pulled down a team high 14 rebounds as the Spartans shot just over 53-percent from the field and pulled down 19 more boards than the Illini.
The Spartans will hit the road again Saturday when they travel to Penn State for a noon tip.
|Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan State Spartans|
|Jan 7, 2016||1ST||2ND||SCORE|
|#5 Michigan State (15-1)||47||32||79|
|Illinois Fighting Illini|
|Michigan State Spartans|
|Lourawls Nairn Jr||24||2-3||0-0||0-0||3||6||0||0||2||4|