- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - It’s very possible that when the new rankings come out on Monday, Michigan State could find itself at No. 1.

If that happens, the third-ranked Spartans seem ready to handle the pressure.

Denzel Valentine had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Bryn Forbes scored 14 points as Michigan State rolled over Binghamton 76-33 on Saturday.

“We all know that where you’re ranked in December doesn’t matter,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “If that happens it’s a feather in your program’s hat. It’s always good to have your team ranked high. We’ve been the hunter for the long time. If you’re ranked one, you are the hunted.”

Forbes is ready if it happens.

“It’s always exciting to be ranked as the best team in college basketball,” Forbes said. “We’re looking forward to championships. That’s what we’re striving for.”

The Spartans (9-0) stormed to a 41-12 halftime lead, shooting 15 of 29 from the field, and holding cold-shooting Binghamton (2-5) to 4 of 31. For the game, Michigan State was 30 of 65 and the Bearcats were 10 of 60.

“I thought we did defend well today,” Izzo said. “The only disappointing thing today for me is we didn’t hit some open shots and missed some layups.”

Valentine scored all of his points within the first 10 minutes of the game as the Spartans took a 21-5 lead. Alvin Ellis III’s 3-pointer late in the half increased the lead to 30-7. Eron Harris scored nine points of his 11 points in the first half.

The Bearcats didn’t reach double figures until just over a minute left in the half when Dusan Perovic’s 3-pointer made it 38-12.

Justin McFadden led Binghamton with 10 points. The Spartans limited William Rodriguez, who entered the game at 17.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, to six points and three rebounds.

“I thought we actually executed pretty well, we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” Bearcats coach Tommy Dempsey said. “You come in thinking if you make some shots you can be competitive. But when you shoot like we did, it just gets out of hand.”

The Spartans had a 53-33 edge in rebounds for their second highest total of the season.

“I know we’re not the best team in the country right now in my mind,” Izzo said. “Somebody has to be it, and if they want to give it to us, we’ll embrace it.”

TIP-INS

Michigan State: The Spartans are off to the second-best start of the Izzo era, trailing only the 2000-01 team that set the record with a 12-0 start. … Valentine set the tone for the game with a dunk off the opening tipoff. … It was the lowest point total against the Spartans since the 92-46 win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Nov. 20.

Binghamton: The Bearcats trailed 9-0 before Everson Davis scored. … The Bearcats had the youngest team in the nation last season and still have 11 underclassmen on their 15-man roster.

LENDING A HAND

Michigan State entered the game averaging a nation’s best of 22.9 assists. They had 12 in the first half and 24 for the game. Valentine entered the game averaging 8.4 assists per contest and had four in limited action against the Bearcats.

RANKING SIMILARITIES

Michigan State is among five schools currently ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 in both football (No. 5) and men’s basketball (No. 3).

RARE MATCHUP

This was the first-ever meeting between the teams. … The Spartans are 7-1 all-time against opponents currently in the America East Conference. … The only other time Binghamton faced a team ranked as high as No. 3 was Michigan in 2012-13. … The Bearcats are 0-11 all-time against ranked teams and 0-6 vs. the Top 5.

UP NEXT

Binghamton visits Oakland University on Monday.

Michigan State hosts Maryland-Eastern Shore on Wednesday.

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