#3 Michigan State Spartans 77 (7-0)
Providence Friars 64 (6-1)
AP Photo / Jae C. Hong
It took me a while to get to recap this game but we’re finally here. The score looks more lopsided then the game actually was. Providence was actually in control for a good portion of the game but it was a back-and-forth match up for the majority of the contest. In a battle featuring two of the premier players in college basketball this year (Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine and Providence’s Kris Dunn), the #3 ranked MSU Spartans were able to pull this one out down the stretch.
Both Dunn and Valentine seemed to be pressing for the first half, trying to outshine the other with individual heroics rather than letting their natural game come to them. They’re both a walking triple-double waiting to happen (Valentine already had one in this tournament) but the big spotlight this early in the season had them each trying to do a little too much, reaching for steals and pulling up for contested threes. I guess that will happen when there’s 30 or so NBA scouts in the crowd and these two showing up to your game.
AP Photo / Jae C. Hong
AP Photo / Jae C. Hong
Obviously, Magic Johnson is a staple at most big Michigan State games but usually doesn’t show up until the NCAA tournament. Chris Paul on the other hand, is still close with PC assistant coach Jeff Battle from his days as an assistant at Wake Forest during Paul’s time there, and Paul wanted to check out some of the top players in college basketball before the jump to the league while they were playing out in California.
Kris Dunn was able to get the better of the individual match up with Valentine, as Valentine struggled with foul trouble in the first half, but it was Valentine’s Spartans that were able to pull out the victory, so he’s probably happy with the result…although you wouldn’t know it because he did something that’s a little uncharacteristic of a Tom Izzo team as the buzzer sounded.
What a dickhead. He got chewed out by an assistant coach when he got back to the bench but I’d be VERY surprised if any disciple actually came down for him since their next game is against Louisville.
Either way, it was a good game that proved that Providence will be able to hang with any team in the country. The Friars just need to tighten some things up and we’ll be in for one helluva season.
- Ben Bentil had another MONSTER game. In my opinion, he was the MVP of the tournament for the Friars and has taken his game to another level this year. Bentil finished with 20 points on 8-16 shooting, and grabbed 7 rebounds. He scored 24, 21, & 20 in the three games of the Wooden Legacy and firmly established himself as a second banana to Kris Dunn. He also showed that he will be able to carry the scoring load with Dunn on the bench.
- He has mastered the righty over-the-shoulder baby hook too.
- Dunn had another Dunn-type of stat line with 21 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. He settled down after uncharacteristically (at least this year) turning the ball over a couple times in the first half and forcing some tough shots when he didn’t need to. Once he let the game come to him, he looked a lot more comfortable. Plays like this are higher percentage shots and can get him scoring in bunches.
- I think Matt McQuaid is one of my least favorite players in college basketball. He was celebrating his one and only 3 with first pumps and chest thumps and then took an uncontested breakaway dunk instead of running out the clock. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that the guy can barely even dribble. He looked like a scared little kid for the entire game and then celebrated a fluke shot like he was Michael Jordan…it was infuriating. He just took a spot on my early season least favorite player team (no positions) so far this college season. Here’s a look at the squad.
Matt McQuaid (Michigan State)
Trevor Cooney (Syracuse)
Denzel Valentine (Michigan State)
Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova)
Ryan Anderson (Arizona)
Coach: Jim Boeheim (Syracuse)
- Rodney Bullock had his third straight game scoring in single-digits. He needs to step up and be that 3rd scoring option if the Friars are going to win games against the top competition in the country. He still continues to rebound well and it’s always nice to have Kris Dunn as your point guard to feed you some easy baskets.
- I feel like I say this after every single game, but Junior Lomomba continues to impress me. His three that was a split second after the shot clock went off would’ve gave the Friars a 1 point lead but it was something that they couldn’t recover from. He’s shown flashes of being a lockdown defender this year and when he is taking a rest on the bench, you can see the difference in the defensive ability of the Friars.
- I wasn’t that impressed with Valentine after hearing all the hype before the game. He definitely has a smooth looking shot and is a pretty gifted passer but I was more impressed with Bryn Forbes. That dude can ball. Their freshman power forward Deyonta Davis is going to be a really good player too. He has the longest freaking arms. He was alley-ooping balls that he caught around his waist, it didn’t make any sense. Once he develops a little more of an offensive game and can score from a little farther out, he’s going to be really good (and he’s already good).
- The refs called every touch foul during what should have been an even better game. Let them play.
- It still doesn’t make sense to me how often Tom Izzo makes it to the Final Four. It’s incredible.
- Just one more clip of Kris Dunn being awesome to make you feel just a tad better after the first loss on the season.
- Also the Friars have snuck into the Top 25 rankings for the first time this year, showing up as No. 23 in the AP Poll and No. 24 in the Coaches Poll.
Next Up, the Friars take on Hartford University 7 PM at the Dunk tonight.