Orlando, FL – It has been a tournament of career highs for Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine. After scoring 19 points on Thursday night to establish a career scoring high, the 6-5 junior wing dropped 25 points on Marquette on Friday night to lead the Spartans to a hard-fought 79-68 victory in a semi-final game of the Orlando Classic on the grounds of Disney’s Wide World of Sports.
Valentine needed only fourteen shots in establishing his new career high point mark. His highly efficient game saw him score from distance, where he made six-of-ten three-point shots, and in the mid-range where his pull-up jump shots in both directions often found the bottom of the net. Valentine was especially adept at knocking down jump shots as the trailer in the Michigan State fast break to help keep Marquette at bay. Valentine was helping to pick up the slack left by Michigan State star Branden Dawson, who although he did play 28 minutes and contribute five points and eight rebounds, once again did not start the game while recovering from a recent illness.
Valentine got help from teammate Travis Trice, a 6-0 point guard who looked aggressively to the basket early in the game and finished with 19 points on six-for-twelve shooting. Not afraid to bang with the bigger bodies in the paint, the 170-pound Trice pulled down six rebounds and also found time to hand out seven assists.
While Michigan State had a player in Valentine who followed up a career scoring night on Thursday with one on Friday, the Spartans were able to prevent Marquette guard Matt Carlino from doing the same thing. After going off for 38 points on Thursday night in a Marquette win over Georgia Tech, the Spartans limited Carlino to 14 points on four-of-thirteen shooting. The Spartans crowded Carlino on the perimeter and ran secondary defenders to challenge his drives into the paint and shots at the rim. Marquette was led by Duane Wilson, a redshirt freshman guard, who scored 15 points.
The victory earned Michigan State a place in the Orlando Classic Championship Game, where it will face Kansas in at 1 pm local time on Sunday, November 30.
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