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MSU’s big men earn high marks from Izzo

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Denzel Valentine had 19 points and eight rebounds on Sunday.

East Lansing — When Michigan State beat Ohio State by nearly 20 points on the road earlier this week, Tom Izzo was not happy.

Sure, getting a win is great, but he was not pleased with the way his big men played, especially senior Matt Costello.

Five days later, Izzo was singing the praises of Costello and freshman Deyonta Davis after No. 6 Michigan State’s 88-57 victory over Penn State at the Breslin Center.

“Our guys inside came to play,” Izzo said. “I would love a question on why I jumped Matt Costello and Deyonta (this week) because those guys played like men today. And (Gavin) Schilling too, had a couple of man rebounds and that’s the difference.

“If we play like that inside, our guards will be good enough.”

Costello was impressive early, scoring all 10 of his points and grabbing eight of his 11 rebounds in the first half.

“I have been struggling the last couple of games as far as rebounding is concerned,” Costello said. “So today I just really made a big effort to get boards and that showed in the first few minutes. I got a little tired after that but I’m trying to average a double-double in the Big Ten and I need a couple more these next games.”

Costello entered the game averaging 12.7 points and 9.7 rebounds in conference games and he now has eight double-doubles this season.

“It was important that Matt got a double-double,” Izzo said, “because we just wanted to make sure everybody understood that he and I were on the same page, and we were.”

Izzo is also on the same page as Davis, the freshman who continues to flash moments of brilliance. On Sunday, it was Davis diving to the floor for a loose ball.

“I told him that he’s got knees that have never been scratched,” Izzo said. “I told him that if he could get a floor burn on his knees I’d hug and kiss him. I didn’t quite do that but it felt good. I saw him go on the floor and said, ‘That kid is growing up.’ ”

Costello, Davis play �like men,� MSU rolls

Davis finished with 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked three shots. He even went over the top of Costello for one.

“He’s making progress,” Izzo said. “And we mentioned it in the pregame, but I’m proud of him and he’s gradually learning what he’s got to do.”

Chambers ‘fights’ for his team

Izzo had a hard time getting too excited after the win because of the ejection of Penn State coach Pat Chambers.

Chambers was ejected with 4:53 to play in the first half after Brandon Taylor was called for a foul. Chambers exploded at referee Bo Boroski and was hit with a technical foul. Chambers continued his tirade and as players and assistants were pulling him back, referee John Higgins gave him a second technical and ejected him from the game.

Chambers continued to scream at the officials as he was led to the locker room.

“I am telling you, he is a good coach,” Izzo said. “His team has won four out of five and are really growing and making some plays. I just talked to him and I told him, ‘you know, that unfortunately, I did think that call was the right one.’ Maybe there was some calls before that one, I don’t know, but, you know we’re all frustrated sometimes with different things. But, this is a good coach who has busted his butt.”

When Penn State lost last season at Michigan State he had a postgame rant about having a disadvantage with the officials. On Sunday, his remarks had a similar tone.

“These kids work so hard for us, for me, for my staff, for Penn State,” Chambers said. “And we have to continue to fight, and if I feel like that is being taken away from them, I will fight for them. I am going to fight for my best player Brandon Taylor. He has sacrificed so much and remained loyal to us during the darkest days of this university, and for that, and what he has done, I’m going to fight, our staff is going to fight and our team is going to fight.

“We’re trying to build a culture. We’re trying to change. We’re trying to buck the system of being the brunt of everybody’s jokes. So we have to fight. … That’s the way it’s gonna be moving forward.”

Slam dunks

Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. played 14 minutes, by far the most since he’s come back after missing seven games with plantar fasciitis.

“We wanted to see how it went, get him some time,” Izzo said. “He probably had too many (minutes) but it’s not gonna change anything.”

… Costello had two blocks to bring his career total to 140, just two away from tying Branden Dawson for the most in Michigan State history.

… The 52 first-half points were the most this season for MSU. The previous high was 47 in a victory over Illinois on Jan. 7.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

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