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Denzel Valentine returns as No. 5 Michigan State blows out Penn State

Denzel Valentine

Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine drives against Northeastern during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Boston Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)


Bryn Forbes scored 20 points, Eron Harris added 13 and Gavin Schilling and Matt Costello combined for 21 points and 16 boards as the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans went into Happy Valley and beat the breaks off of Penn State, 92-65.

But the reason that we’re writing about a 27-point blowout here is because this game featured the return of Denzel Valentine. Michigan State’s all-american candidate came off the bench to play 23 minutes, posting 10 points, four boards and four assists.

The stat line itself wasn’t all that impressive, but the efficiency that Michigan State’s offense operates with when Valentine is on the floor was obvious. His presence makes his teammates better. I mean, how often do you see someone throw passes like this?

“This was a big step in the right direction,” head coach Tom Izzo said.

Valentine did not play all that well through the first 20 minutes, as he looked a bit tentative playing on a knee that he had arthroscopic surgery on three weeks ago. But Izzo said he ripped into his team at the half, and that his team -- and, specifically, Valentine -- responded.

The Spartans need Valentine to be great. Prior to the injury, he was the favorite to be National Player of the Year, and if anything, his absence showed us just how valuable he truly is to this team.