INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Denzel Valentine had 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds to lead No. 2 Michigan State past No. 18 Maryland 64-61 in Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal.
The league’s player of the year sealed it with two free throws with 0.8 seconds to go, and Melo Trimble’s desperation heave from 55 feet away didn’t get past midcourt and was ruled to come after the buzzer anyway.
Michigan State (28-5) has won 12 of 13 and will face No. 13 Purdue in Sunday’s title game.
Robert Carter Jr. had 18 points and eight rebounds to lead Maryland. Trimble finished with 11 points.
Despite making only two baskets over the final 10½ minutes, the Terrapins still could have taken the lead after Valentine missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Trimble drove in for a layup, but the shot appeared to be deflected and Valentine grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled.
It was a rugged game right from the start.
On the first basket, Maryland’s Jake Layman got hit in the face and no foul was called. A couple of possessions later, Layman and Eron Harris drew double technicals as Rasheed Sulaimon and Valentine barked at one another near midcourt. A few minutes later, Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon was given a bench warning.
Less than 12 minutes into the game, Trimble got hit in the face with the ball on a Michigan State pass, forcing him to briefly leave the game. Then, with 4:15 left in the first half, Turgeon was called for a technical.
None of it bothered the surging Spartans.
Michigan State scored six straight to erase an early 10-9 deficit and spent the rest of the game fending off Maryland’s fierce charges.
The Terrapins couldn’t get within one possession until midway through the second half, couldn’t tie the score until Trimble made a 3 with 10:25 left in the game and didn’t take the lead until Carter made two free throws with 6:55 left.
But Matt Costello answered with a dunk on the next possession to give Michigan State a 58-57 lead and the Terrapins didn’t make another basket until Trimble’s layup with 14.7 seconds left made it 62-61.
SEWING THE SEEDS
Valentine made it clear Friday night that the Spartans are playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve made a pretty strong case. After blowing out Ohio State by 27, they led for all but 17 seconds of the final 35 ½ minutes against Maryland. What more could the selection committee ask from the Big Ten’s regular-season runners-up? Maybe a tourney title.
Maryland: Has lost three straight to Michigan State. … Layman finished with nine points, moving into the top 20 on Maryland’s career scoring list. … Carter needs 10 points become the fourth player on his team to score 1,000 career points. … The Terrapins are now 5-1 on neutral courts this season.
Michigan State: Has won four of its last five semifinal games in the Big Ten Tourney. … The Spartans made eight 3s on Saturday, giving them (302) this season. They need six to break the school record (307), set two years ago. … Michigan State improved to 46-15 in March since 2009.
Maryland: Awaits NCAA Tournament pairings.
Michigan St: Faces No. 13 Purdue in Big Ten Tournament championship game Sunday.