- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Louisville took control against Michigan State early, getting to loose balls and making stops to build a double-digit lead in the first half and to stay ahead for most of the game.

In the end, though, the Cardinals couldn’t stop Denzel Valentine.

Valentine scored 11 of his 25 points in the final 5:06, including a tiebreaking 3-pointer and all six of his free throws in the last minute, to help the third-ranked Spartans seal a 71-67 comeback win over No. 24 Louisville on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

“The one guy we didn’t want to make plays was Valentine,” Louisville assistant coach Ralph Willard said. “We wanted somebody else to beat us, going into the game, and unfortunately we gave him an opportunity to win the basketball game. And as a lot of great players do, he did it. He came through and made plays for them.”

The Spartans (8-0) trailed by as much as 13 in the first half and took their first lead with 6:47 left.

After a fifth tie in a 5-minute stretch that had the intensity of an NCAA tournament game, Valentine made a 3-pointer, set up Deyonta Davis for an alley-oop dunk and a connected on a shot in the lane to put Michigan State up 65-58 with 1:54 remaining.

“At winning time, he rose up and that’s what makes him special,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

Louisville pulled within two in the final minute, but Valentine made free throws to seal the victory.

Damion Lee finished with 23 points and Trey Lewis scored 21 points for the Cardinals (5-1) in their first game this season on an opponent’s home court.

“We played well enough to win this game,” Lewis said. “We played great in the first half.”

Louisville coach Rick Pitino didn’t talk to reporters after the game, leaving Willard to relay what he said to his players.

“We feel we had a great opportunity to win this basketball game and it slipped away,” Willard said.


Louisville: The Cardinals took the lead and kept it for much of the game because they made a lot of shots following Michigan State’s baskets. “I was so impressed with them for two-thirds of that game,” Izzo said. Late in the game, though, Louisville’s offense struggled to create open shots and its chance to earn a big win slipped away.

Michigan State: Kenny Goins made the most of an opportunity to play after starter Javon Bess was benched for poor play. The redshirt freshman forward had 13 rebounds, equaling his total from his first seven games, and scored a career-high five points. “Kenny played out of his mind,” Valentine said. “I didn’t know he had that in him. I just told him he earned my respect the way he battled.” Bess started, played six minutes in the first half and just two minutes after halftime.


Louisville hosts Grand Canyon on Saturday.

Michigan State plays Binghamton at home on Saturday.


The game featured national-championship winning coaches, each of whom has seven Final Four appearances. In their last matchup, Izzo helped the Spartans beat Louisville in a 2015 NCAA tournament regional final.


Forbes and Lewis played together at Cleveland State before transferring away to play for Louisville and Michigan State. “Bryn is a great shooter, an unbelievable shooter,” Lewis said. “We just gave him too many open looks.”


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