EVANSTON—The 15 turnovers bothered Michigan State coach Tom Izzo very much. Same for the Spartans’ disparity at the line against Northwestern, and a few issues with the shot clock.The shooting was very impressive.Denzel Valentine made five of Michigan State’s season-high 16 3-pointers, and the 12th-ranked Spartans clamped down on sliding Northwestern for a 76-45 victory Thursday night.
”As I’m learning more and more and I don’t really say I like it, but you make a shot, it takes away all evils,” Izzo said, ”and we made a lot of shots.”
Valentine finished with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds as the Spartans (18-4, 5-4 Big Ten) beat the Wildcats for the seventh straight time. Matt McQuaid scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and freshman Deyonta Davis had eight points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.Valentine went 5 for 7 from long range to improve to 21 for 45 from beyond the arc in six games since returning from arthroscopic left knee surgery.
”I was just kind of in a zone and just shooting the ball with confidence, really,” he said.
Northwestern (15-7, 3-6) shot a season-low 20.7 percent from the field in its fourth consecutive loss. It finished with more free throws (17) than field goals (12).Bryant McIntosh had 14 points on 4-for-15 shooting for the Wildcats, and Aaron Falzon finished with 11 points. Redshirt senior Tre Demps was 2 for 14 from the field, missing each of his seven 3-point attempts.
”I can sit up here for an hour and we can talk about a lot of things, but if you can’t put the ball in the basket you’re not going to win against really good teams,” coach Chris Collins said.
Valentine scored 14 points in the first half, and then focused on more of a distributing role as the Spartans pulled away in the second half.NU closed to 41-29 on Alex Olah‘s two free throws with 16:44 left, but Michigan State responded with a 13-2 run. McQuaid had the final 11 points of the spurt, including three 3s – two of them coming off passes from Valentine.It just got worse from there for the Wildcats, with little-used Matt Van Dyk giving the Spartans their biggest lead of the game with a fast-break dunk in the final seconds. Michigan State shot 51 percent (28 for 55) from the field, including its 16-for-26 night from long range.Davis set a season high for blocks and matched his best total for rebounds. He leads the team with 45 blocks on the year.
”I’m starting to understand,” Davis said. ”But I give credit to my teammates because they help me along with my coaches.”
Scottie Lindsey, who plays guard and forward for Northwestern, did not play for the first time this season. The sophomore went 0 for 5 and failed to score in Saturday’s 89-57 loss at Indiana.
”I just went with other guys tonight,” Collins said.
Izzo’s 513th win with the Spartans snapped a tie with Gene Keady for second-most victories at a Big Ten school. Bob Knight leads the way with 661 wins. … Valentine’s 3-pointer with 8:06 left in the second half moved him past Julius McCoy (1,377) for No. 23 on the school’s career scoring list. … The Spartans’ previous season high was 12 3-pointers in a 78-35 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 9.The Wildcats have one game left in their first stretch of four straight against ranked opponents since the 1989-90 season. They take on No. 3 Iowa on Sunday. … Northwestern went 17 for 19 from the free-throw line, compared to 4 for 4 for the Michigan State.