Texas-Arlington (5-4) at (11) Michigan State (9-3)
Wednesday, December 30th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Breslin Center (14,759) -- East Lansing, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: UTA 3-2, MSU 7-0. Away Record: UTA 1-1, MSU 1-2. Neutral Record: UTA 1-1, MSU 1-1. Conference Record: UTA 0-0, MSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Winners of 46 straight non-conference games at the Breslin Center, the 11th-ranked Michigan State Spartans try to keep rolling at home tonight as they entertain the Mavericks of Texas-Arlington in the final game of 2009.
Heading into this first-ever meeting with UTA, the Spartans are hoping to bounce back from their 79-68 loss to second-ranked Texas on the road last week. The setback snapped a four-game win streak for MSU and was just the third of the season for the program following defeats versus Florida and North Carolina.
As for the Mavericks, they are currently a game over .500 with a record of 5-4, yet the team has not yet defeated an opponent of any significance. There was a time when UTA had put together a modest three-game win streak, but those victories came against the likes of Texas Permian Basin, Houston Baptist and North Dakota. More recently, UT-Arlington snapped a two-game slide eight days ago with a 101-85 rout of Texas Wesleyan at home, the scoring burst by the Mavericks representing a season high thus far.
In front of a crowd of less than 700 at Texas Hall, the Mavericks put four players in double figures last week as Marquez Haynes tallied a game-high 31 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor and 9-of-10 at the free-throw line. Brandon Long tacked on 17 points, Armani Williams had 15 on 4-of-5 shooting behind the three-point line, while Cameron Catlett tallied 14 points for a team that shot 58.9 percent from the floor and 11-of-20 out on the perimeter. Haynes, who has scored no less than 16 points in any one game this season, has converted double-digit field goals a total of four times and continues to be one of the nation's top scorers with his 25.2 ppg. Shooting 48.6 percent from the floor is one thing, but Haynes has also converted 53.2 percent beyond the arc while the team as a whole has made good on just 35.4 percent on the outside. Long accounts for 16.7 ppg as the only other double-digit scorer for the Mavericks, a team that is putting up almost 80 ppg and is still showing just a 5-4 record against questionable opposition.
For the first time this season the Spartans found themselves being outrebounded by the opposition as Texas reported a slim 32-31 edge on the glass last week. In addition, Michigan State made just one of nine field goal tries in the final 8:53 of the contest, making it that much easier for the Longhorns to come away with the win. Suffering 22 turnovers didn't help the Spartans either as Chris Allen led the way with 12 points, followed by Kalin Lucas (11 points), Durrell Summers (11) and Korie Lucious (10). With five players averaging double figures through 12 games, the Spartans have the advantage in many cases because any one of them can take over a game and be a key piece in a scoring burst. Lucas is the top man with his 15.7 ppg, accounting for a team-best 52 assists along the way, while Draymond Green (10.3 ppg) has been the steady force in the paint with his 8.3 rpg, which has allowed MSU to post a rebounding advantage of better than 10 per game over the competition.
The Mavericks are way out of their league in this matchup. Even though Haynes might be a potent scorer for UTA, he and the rest of the team will never be able to keep up with the pressure set by a Michigan State squad that is trying to bounce back after a disappointing loss.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan State 102, Texas-Arlington 66
12/30 10:30:29 ET