The Michigan State Spartans have quickly rose up the College Basketball rankings to number one in the country, mainly behind the unreal production of senior star Denzel Valentine, who is averaging 18 points per game, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Unfortunately, the Spartans received the news a couple days ago that their best player and arguably the best player in the country will be out for 2-3 weeks due to a knee injury that required surgery. So the question that ran through every Spartans fan and throughout the country was, who will pick up the slack?

In their first game without Valentine, they matched up with a pretty good Oakland team and it was a scare to say the least. Oakland has a high octane offense led by the nations second leading scorer Kay Felder at 26.9 points a game and Felder also leads the nation in assists at 8.9 a game. This was a big upset alert game, mainly in part that it was the first game without Valentine and they were still testing stuff out. Luckily for the Spartans, Bryn Forbes and Eron Harris went off for 32 and 27 each and they won 99-93 in overtime.

If they want to have success in their future games without Valentine, they have to utilize Harris to his full ability. Harris transferred this year to East Lansing from West Virginia and he led the way last year for the tournament team Mountaineers, averaging 17.2 points per contest. He is only averaging 8 a game this year but showed his true scoring potential when he dropped 27 on Oakland and looked like the Eron Harris that we saw with West Virginia. With Valentine out, his minutes will skyrocket so they have to get him involved in this offense.

Looking ahead to the games the Spartans will play without Valentine, there is one game that stands out as a possible trouble game. That is a match up next week at Iowa. Iowa has taken Notre Dame and Iowa State to the wire this year and was even up by more than 20 on Iowa State before losing at the end. That could be a real test to how good this team can play and mainly how they can score without Denzel Valentine.

 

Justin Golba

Spark Sports NCAA Analyst

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