No. 5 Michigan State routs Illinois 79-54 without Valentine

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Bryn Forbes has been a good player for No. 5 Michigan State.

Tom Izzo, though, is not satisfied with that.

Forbes scored 17 points to help the Spartans rout Illinois 79-54 on Thursday night for their second straight victory without Denzel Valentine.

"He's got to become a great player," Izzo said.

Forbes made more than half of his 13 shots, connected on three 3-pointers, and had three assists, one rebound, one steal and one turnover.

"I didn't think Bryn had his best game," Izzo lamented. "He has been playing a lot better defensively."

The Spartans (15-1, 2-1 Big Ten) missed Valentine for a fourth straight game. The senior guard participated in pregame warmups and might play at Penn State on Sunday, nearly three weeks after having surgery on his left knee.

"Could've played, wanted to play, but he wasn't quite there yet," Izzo said.

Valentine practiced Wednesday night, moving closer to playing in a game.

"I don't want to get out there until I'm completely 100 percent," he said. "I'm about 90, 95 (percent healthy). I may play Sunday. I may play next week, but it's getting close."

The Illini (8-8, 0-3) didn't have scoring leader Kendrick Nunn. He stayed in Illinois for the birth of his child, a boy, who was born at about the same time as the game began.

"As the father of three kids, I felt like he needed to be there," Illinois coach John Groce said.

Maverick Morgan had 15 points and Malcolm Hill scored 10 for Illinois. The Illini made barely more than one-fourth of their shots in the first half and allowed the Spartans to connect on 61 percent of their shots before halftime.

"Illinois was missing a good player," Izzo said. "Of course, so were we."

Eron Harris scored 13 points for the Spartans, who led by as much as 31 points.

"Eron Harris might've had his best half of basketball in the first half," Izzo said.


Illinois: The short-handed Illini called timeouts, trying to slow down Michigan State, and one of their banged-up players had a lot to say to his teammates in the huddle during one of the second-half breaks. Tracy Abrams, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, shouted at his teammates to keep playing hard even though they trailed by 30 points. "Mentally, we just weren't very good," Groce said. "I thought they tried to play hard and they were physical. But when you play Michigan State, especially here, effort is not enough. I didn't think we played very smart."

Michigan State: Izzo has been encouraging freshman guard Matt McQuaid to be more aggressive offensively. He made two 3-pointers and a driving, layup in the first half and scored eight points in seven minutes before halftime. "He had his best game in a while," Izzo said. "Still not looking for his shot enough." Nine Spartans scored in the first 20 minutes, helping them lead 47-22.


The Spartans played on their home court for the first time since Dec. 12, ending their longest stretch between home games within a season since the 1986-87 season.


Izzo wore a purple ribbon on his left lapel, honoring his father, Carl Izzo, who died last week. He was 90.


Illinois hosts No. 20 Purdue on Sunday.

Michigan State plays at Penn State on Sunday. "Penn State is a funny team," Izzo said. "They could've, should've beaten Maryland."

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