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Valentine powers Izzo to 500th win in MSU rout

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Fullerton, Calif. — The Spartans made some history on the holiday.

Tom Izzo earned the 500th win of his coaching career as Michigan State muscled its way past Boston College, 99-68, in the opener of the John Wooden Legacy Classic on Thursday evening.

And he got that milestone win the way he's earned so many others — by his team grabbing every darn rebound in sight.

The third-ranked Spartans (5-0) outrebounded the Eagles, 38-20, with Denzel Valentine leading the way with 11, part of his second triple-double of the season. He finished with 10 assists and 29 points, matching his career high set earlier this month, despite not scoring for the first 12 minutes of the game.

BOX SCORE: Michigan State 99, Boston College 68

Valentine's 10th assist, a bounce pass to Eron Harris who put in a rebound with about 4 minutes left, gave him the 14th triple-double in MSU history. He became just the third Spartan to record more than one of them, joining Magic Johnson and Draymond Green, who spent part of his Thanksgiving Day watching the game from behind the Spartans bench with his Golden State Warriors on an off-day.

"I called him when I recruited him my poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor man's Magic," said Izzo, who, yes, used 14 poors. "And then last year we started playing good and Day-Day (Green) was playing so good, I called him my poor, poor, poor man's Day-Day. But there's getting to be less poors.

"And sometime, maybe we're gonna be telling some kid that, 'You're a poor man's Denzel.' "

Valentine took a seat after the 10th assist, the game in hand.

Valentine actually missed his first two 3-point attempts of the game, but then missed few others. He also had 29 points against Kansas.

Feeling so amazingly confident, at one point halfway through the second half, he screamed and waved his hands in begging for the ball, got it and drained a 3-pointer from the corner.

That brought a rather impressive Michigan State contingent of Spartans fans to its feet, and forced a Boston College timeout as MSU led, 71-44.

Valentine's was the first triple-double in Wooden Legacy history. He finished 11-of-16 from the field, 6-of-9 on 3-pointers.

"Credit to my teammates. They did a great job of making shots, making plays, playing defense," said Valentine. "I just played my game and didn't worry about anything, and I'm just happy we got the win."

Lourawls Nairn Jr. finished with 13 points, including his first two 3-pointers of the season, on back-to-back possessions in the first half.

Michigan State's 99 points were the most in the Wooden Legacy. The Spartans shot 62.7 percent from the field, 52.4 percent on 3-pointers.

It took a little time for the Spartans to get rolling, as the Eagles used ball screens and cuts to get easy looks in the first half. But late in the half, MSU pulled away to lead 46-33 at the break, and then just crushed it after the break, shooting 69 percent in the second half.

As for Izzo, he became the 18th coach to win 500 games in his first collegiate stop, and among those 18, he was the eighth-fastest to get there. As the clock wound down, Spartans fans started chanting, "Five hundred, five hundred."

After the game, the players gathered on the court, holding "Izzo 500." Green gave him an inscribed Rolex.

"It was a special thing to be a part of," Bryn Forbes said. "Legendary. He's a legend."

Eli Carter led Boston College (3-1) with 22 points. MSU limited freshman A.J. Turner, a former Warren DeLaSalle star and Boston College's first Rivals top-150 recruit since 2007, to two points.

Michigan State (5-0) returns to action at 5:30 p.m. Friday when it plays Boise State, which beat UC Irvine, 71-64, in Thursday's opener.

MSU vs. Boise State

Tip-off: Friday, 5:30 p.m., Titan Gym, Fullerton, Calif.

TV / radio: ESPN2 / WJR 760

Records: MSU 5-0, Boise State 3-2

Outlook: Boise State beat UC Irvine, 71-64, to advance to its meeting with Michigan State. ... Anthony Drmic leads the Broncos, averaging 18.8 points, while James Webb III averages 14.6.