Forbes shoots his way out of slump for Spartans
East Lansing — In the first half of Michigan State's victory over Penn State on Wednesday, Bryn Forbes was again struggling to find his shot.
The junior point guard entered the game shooting better than 45 percent from 3-point range but was coming off a 1-for-3 performance last weekend against Maryland.
So when he hit a 3-pointer from the corner early in the second half, it didn't matter that it didn't count, he was happy to see it all the same. It didn't count because a foul had been called before the shot, but it had the desired result as Forbes hit three 3-pointers down the stretch in the 66-60 victory.
"It's always good to see it go in," Forbes said. "I actually got to see one go in before it really counted and that was the one with the foul that helped. I had a feeling it was going to come back and I was able to bounce back."
There is no doubt Forbes' value is as a shooter, and he has been that on most nights for the Spartans. In fact, he hasn't played a game yet in which he didn't make at least one 3-pointer.
And even though he was just missing early against Penn State, he never lost faith it would come back around.
"The key is to keep confidence and know that it is going to go in," he said, "and not let the misses bother you because I know I'm gonna get four or five more shots, so I was not too worried about it."
His teammates were just happy to see Forbes' shots fall.
"Bryn is one of the best shooters in the country and hands down one of the best shooters I've ever been around," guard Travis Trice said. "And you know if he is missing sooner or later they are gonna fall and you saw that in the second half, he started getting it going. We have a lot of confidence in Bryn. He needs to keep shooting and we'll keep finding him."
It was key for coach Tom Izzo, who said during the week he needed to get more shots for Forbes. It's all a work in progress because Forbes is now coming off the bench after starting 16 of the first 17 games.
He made way for freshman Javon Bess in order to bring more scoring punch off the bench.
"I did a poor job with Bryn in the last game," Izzo said early in the week. "Bryn didn't do a poor job, I did. … We did not run enough stuff for Bryn. And Bryn is shooting 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from the 3 and not getting as many shots. So that's one thing that will change this week because he does come off screens a little bit better. We did a poor job in that area."
Block of the century
Senior Branden Dawson reached a milestone and he did it by producing when it mattered most.
He had three blocks in the win over Penn State, giving him 101, good for fifth all-time at Michigan State behind 106 from Delvon Roe. He also joined Draymond Green and Adreian Payne as the only players in Spartans history with 1,000 career points and 100 career blocks. Payne is the career leader with 141.
After getting his first block early in the game, the next two came in the final minutes against Penn State star D.J. Newbill, who scored 27 points but was shut down by Dawson.
"He made a move in the paint and I just got a piece of it," Dawson said of the block that led to a Trice layup and a 59-51 lead.
Dawson hadn't practiced guarding Newbill, but with Denzel Valentine playing with four fouls, the Spartans made the switch.
"Coach told me I had him and it was a huge test for myself," Dawson said. "Newbill is a great scorer and he makes tough shots. That was a huge test for myself. He makes some great shots and hesitation shots and step-backs. He can really change direction well and is stronger than most guards in our league."
Dawson credited teammate Eron Harris, the transfer from West Virginia sitting out this season, for giving a good look during practice.
"E did a great job in practice," Dawson said as he poked fun at Harris sitting nearby. "He always does a great job and is tough to guard, too. He's scared of me, though, every time he comes off a switch he passes it."
Michigan State entered Wednesday's game shooting just 63.2 percent from the free-throw line, the worst percentage in the Big Ten.
But the Spartans made their first nine against Penn State and were 11-for-14 in the first half. Dawson (38.9 percent) and Schilling (45.5 percent) were both 3-for-4.
They faltered late, however, and finished 16-for-25.