Spartans show out against Binghamton to make case for No. 1

It started right from tip-off.

The men’s basketball team wasted no time in getting off to a fast start in beating Binghamton 76-33. The win moves MSU to 9-0, while Binghamton is now 2-5.

As soon as the action started, sophomore Tum Tum Nairn threw a lob to senior Denzel Valentine for two quick points. It was no mercy from there.

The Spartan defense suffocated any chance of Binghamton running offense, specifically shutting down arguably their best player in sophomore Willie Rodriguez. Rodriguez is averaging 17 points per game, but did not score until 7:27 in the first half, and finished with six points for the game. As a team, Binghamton did not score until 16:34 in the first half when freshman guard Emerson Davis hit a jumper.

Coach Tom Izzo spoke on his team’s defensive effort in the half.

“I thought we defended well today,” Izzo said. “Creating turnovers and holding them down defensively were all big pluses.”

On the other end the MSU offense was revved up. They started out the game on a 9-0 run, including six points from Valentine. At one point Denzel had 13 of the team’s 21 points, along with three rebounds.

A problem for the Spartans still seems to be redshirt junior Eron Harris finding his shot from three. In the first half he shot 2-6 from the field and missed three free throws. While this was an issue, he found other ways to impact the game by crashing the boards for rebounds and making the extra pass for an assist as he had two of each in the half.

No surprise for MSU was the great play of freshman Deyonta Davis off the bench. The 6-foot-10 forward had six rebounds and hit his only shot of the first half. Coach Izzo has started to give him more time each game, which comes with more expectations. Davis still has his freshman moments, which could be seen periodically with a poor pass or not running through on an entire play, but he seems to get better each game.

Coach Izzo felt Davis could have given more today.

“Dwayne Stephens (associate head coach) and I felt that Deyonta did not really bear down and give the effort we needed,” Izzo said. “Dwayne Stephens laughed at me and said Deyonta did not play that hard, but has 10 rebounds already.”

Binghamton knew before the game who they would be playing, but they had to have had higher expectations than what was transcribed on the floor in the half. They shot only 13 percent from the field and were outrebounded 26-15. For the half they only scored 12 points.

The second half started slow by Spartans’ basketball standards as they only scored six points in the first three minutes. However, they continued their defensive pressure on Binghamton, only allowing two points in this span, which came from free throws.

Not helping matters for Binghamton was the injury of Rodriguez early in the second half. He came out for an extended period of time, though eventually returned later in the game. During his absence, the Bearcats tried to get freshman Thomas Bruce more involved in the game to make up for such a large absence. Though he got touches, nothing came to fruition as the Spartans were too much for the young player.

The Spartan offense slowed down considerably at the start of the second half, as both Valentine and senior Matt Costello got into foul trouble.

Picking up the slack for MSU was senior Bryn Forbes, who had nine points in the half and finished with 14 for the game.

The Spartans’ next game is Wednesday at the Breslin Center against Maryland-Eastern Shore at 7 p.m.

Key Stats:

Denzel Valentine finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, which makes for his third double-double (including two triple-doubles).

Deyonta Davis had 11 rebounds off the bench