For Denzel Valentine, it was a matchup more than 18 years in the making. And the freshman guard certainly didn’t disappoint.
In the first-ever collegiate battle between Denzel and his older brother Drew Valentine of Oakland, it was little brother who got the best of the exchange, leading the No. 15 Spartans to a 70-52 victory over the Golden Grizzlies on Friday at Breslin Center.
Starting in the absence of fellow freshman Gary Harris, who injured his shoulder earlier in the week against Boise State, Denzel Valentine secured his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to best his brother and send his team over the top in the well-publicized family affair.
Junior guard Keith Appling was the team’s leading scorer with 20 points to go along with 15 points and nine rebounds from junior center Adreian Payne.
It was a less-than-stellar effort early on for the Spartans, turning the ball over eight times in the first eight minutes to keep the game close, despite a poor shooting effort by Oakland.
The Golden Grizzlies would collect 12 points off MSU’s turnovers, despite shooting just 6-of-29 (20.7 percent) in the half, including missing on all 10 attempts from beyond the arc.
The Spartans finished with 13 turnovers in the half but went into the locker room ahead 34-21.
Appling set the pace for the Spartans in the first half, with a team-leading eight points to go along with two assists and four rebounds in the half.
However, Appling left the game with a little more than two minutes to play in the half with an apparent injury to his right foot. He would return in the second half for the Spartans, drilling a big 3-pointer with 15:52 to play as a sign of good will.
The Spartans held Oakland without a field goal for the final 6:36 of the game and finished the game on 15-1 run to walk out of the arena the victory.
MSU returns to action at noon on Sunday against Louisiana Lafayette.