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Q. Denzel, you have seen other teams before. When you get desperate team, they may have needed a win to get in the conference tournament. That worked maybe for Michigan and Indiana; Iowa. You knew they were desperate. What do you do against that? How do you counter desperation? Could you see that early on from them and turn it into hopelessness?
DENZEL VALENTINE: We're desperate too. We want to win the championship. We can't worry about their feelings and them being desperate. We have to worry about us and how we play. We didn't accomplish one of our goals, and that was to win the Big Ten Championship outright. And we're kind of mad about it. Me and Matt never won a Big Ten Championship outright. So we are kind of mad right now, and we have something to play for; that we want to be the No. 1 seed. We have goals too. It's just not them. And that's what I think people misunderstood.
Q. I asked on Monday about playing a team you've beaten twice by an average of 17 points and staying motivated, which you were. And he said he put it on your four seniors to get there. Will you talk about the mindset in the locker room? Because clearly you had it.
DENZEL VALENTINE: Like I said, we have things to accomplish too. It's March Madness time. It's time to play. This is what we have all been waiting for. Postseason. This is time. This is where everybody gets to have great moments and has great memories. So we have things to accomplish, and that was one of our goals.
Just one more thing to add. All those No. 1 seeds losing, that kind of scares us too, so we had to be ready for that.
Q. Denzel, usually the sign of a team with a mature pulse in a close game is how it starts the first five minutes of the second half. You guys come out. You hit an 8-0 run. They call a timeout, and that extended out to 14-2. At that point, you're kind of over the hump. What happened, what went well in those first four or five minutes of the second half?
DENZEL VALENTINE: We got back to playing Michigan State basketball, you know. The first half was really uncharacteristic of ourselves. We were taking bad shots. We were complaining. We were out there, not being ourselves.
In the second half we settled down, got the shots we wanted. And we got on transition too, and that led to easy buckets. Deyonta Davis, he was really good in the second half. He was blocking shots, talking, being around the rim on offense. He was great for us in the second half and led to us getting that lead.
Q. Denzel, for those of us who have known you long before you came to Michigan State, you are as much of a historian of this program as a player. You love the history. You have seen Tom with teams maybe even more talented than yours lose because they didn't have the leadership of this team in the locker room. What is it about your leadership, Matt's leadership, Bryn's and Colby that is so different? Because it clearly is.
DENZEL VALENTINE: I think we're so hungry, and that is the thing. Our goal, when we got here, was to win a National Championship. And we haven't accomplished that yet. We have the perfect team, I think, to do it this year. So us, as seniors and the senior class, we are really hungry to do that and accomplish that goal. So ever since the season got over last year, going to the Final Four and being that close, it only just drove us that much more to get back. Not only that, try to win this championship. And then see what happens after that. So we have been hungry, and that has been driving us.
#2 MICHIGAN STATE
Michigan State Spartans move on to Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinals and will face the winner of the #3 Maryland/#11 Nebraska game. This will be the Spartans’ sixth consecutive appearance in the semifinals and their 13th overall.
The Spartans have won 11 of their last 12 games, improving their record to 27-5. MSU has a 6-1 record in its last seven Big Ten Tournament games.
Including tonight’s game, MSU and Ohio State have played in three of the Spartans’ five most recent games. MSU won each game by an average margin of victory of 20.3 points.
For his career, Tom Izzo’s coaching record is 98-42 (.700) in the month of March. Izzo has the best record of any other coach in the Big Ten Tournament with .767 (23-7)
Denzel Valentine came into the game averaging 19.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game. Tonight, he totaled 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Valentine now has 1,599 career points, passing Morris Peterson (1,588 points, 1996-2000) and Raymar Morgan (1,597, 2007-10) into 11th place on MSU’s all-time scoring list. In tenth place is Mike Robinson with 1,717 points (1972-74).
Over a span of his last 11 games, Bryn Forbes has made 53 of his 95 three-point field goal attempts (.558). Three of those games were against Ohio State and Forbes hit 11-of-24 triples (7-of-10, 1-of-6, and 3-of-8). For the season, he’s made 107 three-pointers, trailing only Drew Neitzel (114, 2006-07) and Shawn Respert (119, 1994-95).
MSU hit five straight shots in the first half from 16:56 to 13:55, but from that point until the intermission shot just 5-of-22 (.227). In the second half, the Spartans shot considerably better (20-of-33, .606).
Michigan State held Ohio State to just 1-of-11 (.091) shooting from long distance, the best effort this season (.118 vs. Binghamton, 12/5/15). The Spartans entered tonight’s game allowing their opponents only .306 success from beyond the arc.
THANKS TO DEREK YOUNG FOR SHOOTING THE VIDEO FOR SPARTAN DIGEST