Michigan State is still undefeated and still No. 1.
But the Spartans are drastically different without Denzel Valentine.
That goes without saying, perhaps. But it was undeniable during Tuesday’s 99-93 OT win against Oakland, during which the Spartans had to overcome a 13-point halftime deficit.
Michigan State allowed Oakland to score 50 points in the opening 20 minutes.
“That had nothing to do with Denzel Valentine,” said MSU coach Tom Izzo, who was recently nominated for the Hall of Fame. “That had something to do with the guys we had.”
Valentine underwent minor knee surgery Monday that will sideline him for 2-3 weeks. So he was in street clothes Tuesday, reduced to watching Kay Felder ball-out in a big way. The 5-foot-9 guard entered ranked second nationally in scoring and first in assists. Felder finished with 37 points and nine assists against Michigan State before fouling out with 49.1 seconds left in OT. He made 10 of the 22 shots he took and 14 of the 18 free throws he attempted, including a pair with 4.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game to OT.
(If you’re unfamiliar with Kay Felder, read this column that posted earlier Tuesday.)
Michigan State is 13-0 for the first time in school history.
The Spartans’ next game is next Tuesday at Iowa.
They won’t play another currently ranked team until they meet Maryland on Jan. 23.