Forbes sets MSU, Big Ten 3-point records in win

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Bryn Forbes makes a 3-pointer against Rutgers and the MSU bench erupts.

Piscataway, N.J. — Few shooters have come through Michigan State as effective at shooting 3-pointers as senior guard Bryn Forbes, and now there is no one in program history — or Big Ten history, for that matter — who has made more in a single game.

Forbes entered Wednesday’s game at Rutgers as the best 3-point shooter in the nation, and for No. 2 Michigan State, that came in handy. Facing a Rutgers team that hasn’t won a Big Ten game all season, the Spartans found themselves trailing late in the first half. But Forbes started heating up late in the opening 20 minutes and didn’t cool down at halftime.

Forbes hit 11 3-pointers, establishing a Big Ten and Michigan State record for most triples in a game to spark Michigan State to a 97-66 victory at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

BOX SCORE: Michigan State 97, Rutgers 66

“We had an incredible performance from Bryn Forbes,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “The job he did, the shots he made and the execution were unbelievable.”

Forbes finished the game with a career-high 33 points and his 11 triples bettered the 10 3-pointers former Spartan Chris Hill made in a game against Syracuse in 2003. He was 11-for-16 from 3-point range and 11-for-18 overall. His previous best for 3-pointers in a game came in the win over Michigan when Forbes was 8-for-10.

It took some time for Forbes to get going, but by the end of the first half, when he nailed three straight to give the Spartans a 43-41 lead, he could tell things would be different.

“I knew we were struggling but I was just finding some openings, so that made it easy for me,” Forbes said. “I started getting hotter and hotter and I was feeling it. Everything just felt good from that point and it just fell.”

The performance from Forbes helped Michigan State (25-5, 12-5 Big Ten) overcome a lackluster performance in the first half.

“I don’t think either team was very good defensively, especially the Spartans,” Izzo said of the first half.

“That was one of the worst defensive performances we’ve had in a while.”

Eron Harris scored 15 for Michigan State while Denzel Valentine had 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Marvin Clark scored 10 points while Matt Costello scored 10 and had 15 rebounds, which matched a career high.

Corey Sanders scored 19, 15 in the first half, to lead Rutgers. Jonathan Laurent scored 14 for the Scarlet Knights (6-24, 0-17) while D.J. Foreman scored 11.

The Spartans can’t win a share of the Big Ten after Indiana’s victory at Iowa on Tuesday, but they can lock up the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament with a win in the regular-season finale on Saturday at home against Ohio State.

The fact a shot at the conference title was lost could have played a role in Michigan State’s slow start.

“We totally disrespected the game,” Valentine said. “They hit every shot, it was crazy. We lead the nation in field-goal percentage defense and, no disrespect to Rutgers, but we let the worst team in the conference come out and play like that. Credit to Rutgers, they came out ready to play and hit shots, but that was on us.”

A fast start to the second half squashed any thought of a potential upset. Michigan State opened the half on a 20-3 run, highlighted by three more triples from Forbes. It turned a two-point lead at the break into a 63-44 advantage with more than 15 minutes to play.

Michigan State now prepares to host Ohio State on Saturday with plenty to work on.

“I was so disappointed,” Izzo said, “because we did not follow the game plan (in the first half) and that is something we have done a great job of. We did not respect the opponent and the opponent kicked our butt.”