No 3 Michigan State rout Boston College
No 18 UConn fall 79-76 to Syracuse at Battle 4 Atlantis
FULLERTON: Denzel Valentine took his game to another level, scoring, rebounding and dishing off. His teammates followed his lead, making third-ranked Michigan State too much to handle. Valentine had a triple-double of 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Spartans beat Boston College 99-68 Thursday in an opening-round game at the DirectTV Wooden Legacy to give coach Tom Izzo his 500th career victory. “It’s Thanksgiving, when you’re supposed to give thanks,” Izzo said. “I’m thankful for the guys I got, the guys I have and all the people who have helped me have this special win.” Valentine helped the Spartans expand their 13-point halftime lead to 27 midway through the second half and they eventually led by 34. His second triple-double of the season was the first in the event’s nine-year history.
Valentine’s six 3-pointers were one off his career high, and his points total was a career best. Tum Tum Nairn added 13 points and eight assists for the Spartans, who shot 63 percent and dominated the boards 38-20. They hit 69 percent from the field in the second half. “We were clicking on all cylinders,” forward Matt Costello said. After the final buzzer, Izzo’s players gathered around him at midcourt, holding up “Izzo 500” signs and posing for photos.
Eli Carter, a graduate transfer from Florida, led the Eagles with 22 points - one off his career high at BC. The Spartans (5-0) next play Boise State (3-2). The Broncos beat UC Irvine 71-64 in the day’s first game at cozy Titan Gym on the campus of Cal State Fullerton. Boston College (3-1) played Irvine (4-1) yesterday. After hitting consecutive 3-pointers, Valentine backpedaled up the court smiling at Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green sitting courtside. Valentine converted a one-handed jam off a turnover and dashed over to high-five Green, clearly delighted by his alma mater’s theatrics. Green stopped over in Fullerton on his way to Phoenix for the Warriors’ next game.
“Draymond being here is really special to me. I look up to a guy like him,” Valentine said. “When he’s in the gym I have to play well. I was really focused. My teammates wanted to play well. It was a special day.” Valentine scored 14 points in Michigan State’s 25-11 run to open the second half. The Spartans made four straight 3-pointers in the spurt, with Valentine hitting three in a row and passing to Bryn Forbes for the other. The Eagles tried rallying from the perimeter, getting three straight 3s while closing to 80-59. It didn’t help. Valentine sparked a 10-0 burst with a basket and an assist that pushed Michigan State’s lead to 88-59. CALIFORNIA: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo (right) gets a hug from guard Denzel Valentine, who is next to forward Matt Costello, after Izzo’s 500th career win, during an NCAA college basketball game in Fullerton, Calif on Thursday, Nov 26, 2015. — AP
“If there’s a better team in the country, I haven’t seen them play,” Eagles coach Jim Christian said. “They have no bad possessions. They’re very unselfish. They make the extra play.” The Spartans led 46-33 at
halftime, getting 13 straight points from Valentine in a 23-13 run to close the half. He had eight points as the Spartans rattled off 10 in a row to launch the spurt that produced their largest lead of 15. Michigan State shot 62 percent in the game’s opening minutes and built a 19-10 lead before Valentine even made his first basket. The Eagles answered with a 10-4 run to close to 23-20 before Valentine’s offensive outburst gave the Spartans a cushion.
No 18 UConn fall Connecticut has had plenty of experience playing in tough, physical games with Syracuse. In this latest meeting with its former Big East rival, it was the Orange’s offense that was too much for the Huskies to handle. Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney each had 17 points and Syracuse beat No 18 Connecticut 79-76 on Thursday to advance to the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Tyler Lydon added 16 points off the bench. Gbinije also had seven assists.
The Huskies (4-1) will face Gonzaga in the third-place game on Friday. “The second half they really just took it to us offensively,” Huskies coach Kevin Ollie said. “We were in a drought in the first half and the second half and really allowed them to take over the game, and in transition they really hurt us with the 3’s.” The teams traded the lead at the start of the second half, with neither able to get much separation.
That changed around the 13-minute mark when the Orange (5-0) tightened their zone on defense and started an 18-8 spurt that gave Syracuse a 65-55 lead with 7:45 remaining. The Orange then fought off several pushes by the Huskies to preserve the win. Daniel Hamilton led UConn with 18 points. Sterling Gibbs and Rodney Purvis each added 12. “We learned a lot from it, and we just have to recover,” Hamilton said. “We didn’t get back on defense. I think that’s a thing we gotta key in on. And finishing off at the rim. We were getting there we just gotta wind up finishing.” UConn’s Amida Brimah was forced to the bench during Syracuse’s big run, picking up his fourth foul.
But the Huskies kept picking away at the lead and closed to 73-71 on a 3-pointer by Purvis. The Orange strung together some free throws to push the lead back to seven. UConn rallied again and trimmed that lead to 79-76 with 36.8 seconds left. Syracuse was forced into a wild shot with the shot clock winding down. But it found the ball in a scramble for the rebound and was able to run out the final seconds. UConn raced out to a 10-point lead, but Syracuse fought back to tie it at halftime. Both teams shot well in the half and shared with ball while doing it. Syracuse had five assists on its 10 baskets, and the Huskies had seven on their 11 made field goals. — Agencies