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Michigan State's win proves it's too early to count Spartans out

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Izzo learns how much Spartans can compete (1:07)

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is proud of his team's effort in the win over Maryland, especially from Matt Costello who helped shut down Melo Trimble. (1:07)

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Here are some quick thoughts following the Michigan State Spartans' 74-65 victory over the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday.

Proof that the Spartans can still compete with the best: It was easy to forget during its three-game losing streak that Michigan State had beaten Providence, Kansas and Louisville earlier this season. Matt Costello's late swat of Rasheed Sulaimon's layup with 17.4 seconds to play, and the fury that Michigan State played with throughout the game reminded us that this is still an elite team. Perhaps it's also just a team that suffered a pair of one-point losses to Wisconsin and Nebraska, losses that symbolized bad luck more than a worrisome slump. Maybe. See, we can't ignore the 1.15 points per possession that Michigan State gave up in losses to Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska. On Saturday, the Spartans played tough with their backs against the wall when they faced a Maryland team that had scored 80 points or more nine times this season (8-1). The narrative right now, had Michigan State avoided those one-point losses to Nebraska and Wisconsin, would be "Michigan State still fighting for the Big Ten title" instead of "What's wrong with Michigan State?" The win over Maryland was more than a confidence boost, it was evidence the Michigan State team that was undefeated before its 3-4 start in Big Ten play still exists. The new narrative: "Don't count out the Spartans yet."

Denzel Valentine and Melo Trimble put on a show: We might not end the season with any great teams. Plus, we were all spoiled last season as Kentucky chased perfection, Wisconsin secured a second consecutive Final Four berth and Duke won the national title behind the efforts of three first-year players who were all first-round picks. But we still have some good players. Melo Trimble (24 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) is a force on the court, no matter where he is. He's someone who must be watched. His penetration and passing kept Maryland in the game. Denzel Valentine (19 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists) reminded us that he's still a national player of the year candidate. He did it all for the Spartans. They're two of the Big Ten's best and they proved it with the way they carried their respective squads.

Bryn Forbes shoots himself out of his slump: The veteran entered the matchup having endured a multitude of struggles. He'd gone 5-for-22 during Michigan State's three-game losing streak. He finished 8-for-15 and recorded 25 points to lead all scorers.

Maryland always has a chance with Melo Trimble, but ... : At some point, Maryland has to find a way to bring it on the road. The Terrapins entered Saturday's game with nine losses since the start of the 2014-15 season, and six of those losses had come on the road. Their three losses this season (Michigan State, Michigan and Michigan State) were all on the road. There's no doubt Maryland is a talented squad with the potential to compete with any team in America. But the Terps have to maintain their edge outside College Park, Maryland, which is not easy to do but necessary for schools seeking Big Ten titles and more. Trimble is special. But Mark Turgeon's group must play better when it leaves home.

Maryland's frontcourt foul trouble: Diamond Stone picked up his second foul five minutes into the second half and his third with 8:10 to play -- when the star freshman exited the game. Damonte Dodd had three fouls in the first half. Jake Layman had two in the first half. Robert Carter picked up his second foul with 14:13 to go on a bad call during a Kenny Goins fast break. Early in the second half, Maryland's frontcourt was in a difficult situation with foul trouble.

Michigan State, fouls and free throws: In the first half, Maryland finished 4-for-5 from the free throw line after the Spartans committed six fouls. That's a vast difference from Michigan State's three consecutive losses. In those games, the Spartans committed 62 fouls combined. Their opponents shot 66 free throws. Wisconsin recorded 36 free throw attempts. Earlier this week, Tom Izzo said he has had some challenges adjusting to the new rules, which placed the greatest burden on the physical, rugged squads in the game. The Spartans seemed conscious of those troubles in the first half against a Maryland team that entered the game shooting 76 percent from the free throw line. Things changed, it seemed, after halftime, however, when Maryland drew four Michigan State fouls in the first three minutes. With nearly 12 minutes to play, the Terrapins were in the bonus. By the end of the game, they had made 13 of 16 free throw attempts.