Denzel Valentine is officially back for the Spartans.
After missing the previous four games while recovering from knee surgery, Valentine returned for Michigan State in Sunday’s game against Penn State. Valentine didn’t look exactly like his old self in his first action in three weeks, but the rust came off as the game went on and his much-improved second half helped the Spartans hammer the Nittany Lions, 92-65.
Bryn Forbes starred for Michigan State while Valentine got his legs under him. Forbes hit six 3-pointers and finished with 20 points, doing all his damage in the first half to lead the Spartans in the rout.
Forbes and Gavin Schilling combined to go 12-for-17 from the field in the first half, carrying Michigan State, as the rest of the team went just 4-for-22 in the first 20 minutes. The two teamed for an 11-0 run in the middle of the first half to build a double-digit lead. Penn State chipped away to get it as small as seven, but Michigan State still led by 13 at halftime after another Forbes triple.
After a couple early baskets by the Lions in the second half, the Spartans streaked out on a 12-2 run to get the lead to 20. They went on a separate 12-0 run in the middle of the half, getting that lead to 30 and ended up cruising to a 27-point win.
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Michigan State finished shooting 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range, splashing home 10 triples. Penn State shot 41.2 percent from the field and was just 3-for-14 from 3-point range. The Spartans had a 40-32 rebounding advantage and turned the ball over just six times compared to the Lions' 13.
Forbes scored 20 points for the fourth time this season. Schilling finished with a season-high 13 points in just his sixth game of the season. Eron Harris also had 13 points.
In his first game back from injury and his first Big Ten game of the season, Valentine finished with 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. After going 0-for-5 from the field in the first half, he went 4-for-6 from the field in the second half.
Shep Garner led Penn State with 19 points.
The win sent the Spartans to 3-1 in conference play and 16-1 on the season. Next up is a rematch with Iowa on Thursday. The Hawkeyes handed the Spartans their only loss of the season to open Big Ten play.
The Lions dropped to 1-3 in league play and 10-7 overall with the loss. They next travel to Purdue on Wednesday.