MSU sees progress during third straight setback

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Bryn Forbes launches a shot at the buzzer that would have given MSU the win had it gone in.

Michigan State fell just short in its quest to bring home a second win from its trip to Italy, but that didn't take away from the benefits of the trip.

The Spartans fell, 71-70, to the Georgian national team on Sunday when a 40-foot shot from Bryn Forbes hit the back of the rim at the buzzer. However, the Spartans also played as well as they have after two straight one-sided losses to Russia and Italy following a blowout win over a club team in Florence.

"This trip was as good as anything I've done in my 20 years," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "We played scared against the Russians, really competed for 35 minutes, in fact all 40 minutes against the Italians, and for most of tonight, probably 35 minutes of good basketball."

Michigan State jumped to an early lead before trailing at halftime by nine, a deficit that grew to 55-44 at the end of the third quarter.

But Forbes, who scored 14 points, heated up an the Spartans cut the deficit to 63-59 in the fourth quarter. A layup by Tum Tum Nairn cut the margin to one in the final seconds, and after a couple of missed layups by Georgia, Forbes got off the final shot.

"Tum Tum really came around and played his best game of this year so far," Izzo said. "So there were a lot of positives."

Gavin Schilling capped a strong trip by scoring 17 while Matt Costello scored eight as the two big men joined each other in the starting lineup. Denzel Valentine was held to just eight points, the only time on the trip he did not score in double figures.

"We played better each game, we competed hard the whole time," Izzo said.