No 3 Michi­gan State rout Bos­ton Col­lege

No 18 UConn fall 79-76 to Syra­cuse at Bat­tle 4 At­lantis

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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