Win has Izzo feeling good about Sparty
Denzel Valentine and his fellow Michigan State seniors went out in style, coasting past Ohio State and compelling coach Tom Izzo to make a bold statement in public.
Valentine scored 27 points and matched a career high with 13 assists in his last home game, helping the No. 2 Spartans defeat the Buckeyes 91-76. Michigan State (26-5, 13-5 Big Ten) has won 10 of its last 11 games and will be the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament, which begins Wednesday in Indianapolis.
‘‘We didn’t win the Big Ten championship, but we can win two more championships,’’ Valentine said, referring to the conference tournament and NCAA tournament. ‘‘We’ve got nine more games. We’re not done.’’
While Izzo and his team will want to farewell in Indianapolis, theywill be much more motivated to win the NCAA tournament. And Izzo said likes the Spartans’ chances.
Izzo told fans at the Breslin Center he thought three of his previous seven Final Four teams had a ‘‘legitimate chance’’ to win it all entering those tournaments.
‘‘I’m putting my neck on the line,’’ he said. ‘‘This is my fourth.’’
Izzo later told reporters this Michigan State team compares to the championship-caliber teams he had 1999, 2000 and 2010. The 2000 team won the NCAA title.
The Buckeyes (19-12, 11-7), meanwhile, have lost only two of their last seven games — both to the Spartans. Afterward, Ohio State coach Thad Matta was asked whether he thinks his team has to win the Big Ten tournament to get into the NCAA field.
‘‘I haven’t thought that far ahead,’’ he said.
Matt Costello added 15 points and 11 rebounds and Bryn Forbes 14 points in their last home games for Michigan State. Marc Loving scored 21 points, JaQuan Lyle 18 and Kam Williams 15 for the Buckeyes.
Rutgers 75, Minnesota 52
Mike Williams scored a careerhigh 29 points, and the Scarlet Knights (7-24, 1-17) ended a 32-game Big Ten losing streak and a 17-game skid overall with a rout of the Golden Gophers (8-22, 2-16) in Piscataway, New Jersey.
The victory was Rutgers’ first in the conference since a 67-62 upset of then-No. 4 Wisconsin on Jan. 11, 2015. It was the Scarlet Knights’ first victory overall since they beat Massachusetts-Lowell on Dec. 28.
Minnesota, which shot a seasonlow 30 percent, never had a chance. Golden Gophers coach Richard Pitino suspended guards Kevin Dorsey, Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer for the rest of the season earlier in the week because of a sexually explicit video that appeared on Dorsey’s social-media accounts.
Minnesota also lost forward Joey King to a broken foot earlier in the week, leaving it with eight players, including three walk-ons.
Iowa 71, Michigan 61
Jarrod Uthoff scored 29 points, and the No. 16 Hawkeyes (21-9, 12-6) ended a four-game losing streak by defeating the Wolverines (20-11, 10-8) in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Iowa led by 15 points with 10:13 left, but Michigan scored the next 10 points to get back into the game. The Wolverines couldn’t get any closer, though, and lost for the fourth time in their last five games. They likely will need a good showing in the Big Ten tournament this week to reach the NCAA tournament.
Michigan State star Denzel Valentine acknowledges the applause of the crowd as he leaves his final home game Saturday against Ohio State.