(5) Michigan State (9-1) at Texas (10-1)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 21, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,540) -- Austin, Texas.
Television: CBS. Home Record: MSU 5-1, UT 7-0. Away Record: MSU 0-0, UT 2-0.
Neutral Record: MSU 4-0, UT 1-1. Conference Record: MSU 0-0, UT 0-0. Series
Record: Series is tied, 4-4.
GAME NOTES: Fresh off their biggest win of the season, the Texas Longhorns
will try to play the role of giant slayer once more as they entertain the
fifth-ranked Michigan State Spartans in a non-conference clash at the Frank
Erwin Center on Saturday afternoon.
Michigan State had been the top-ranked team in the nation after it knocked off
then No. 1 Kentucky in Chicago back in early November, and the team had
streaked out to a 7-0 start before suffering a 79-65 loss to North Carolina on
Dec. 4. The Spartans have since reeled off two more wins, topping the likes of
Oakland and North Florida to sit at 9-1. This is MSU's first true road game of
the campaign, and the squad will play one more tuneup (vs. New Orleans) before
beginning Big Ten play at Penn State on New Year's Eve.
Texas played at North Carolina on Wednesday night, and stunned the 14th-ranked
Tar Heels in an 86-83 final. The win, the sixth straight for the Longhorns,
was by far their biggest of the season, and if they can pull off another upset
they will surely find themselves ranked rather highly in next week's AP poll.
UT is a perfect 7-0 at home this season, and this game begins a three-game run
in Austin, the finale of which takes place on Jan. 4 and is its Big 12 opener
The all-time series between Michigan State and Texas is knotted at 4-4, and
this is the seventh meeting in the last eight years. Each game has been
decided by 12 points or less, and it was the Spartans who claimed victory last
season in a 67-56 triumph in East Lansing.
Michigan State has had very little trouble imposing its will at both ends of
the court, as it averages 81.1 ppg behind a Big Ten-best .485 field goal
percentage. The 3-pointer is falling at a 37.2 percent clip, while foes are
netting just 65.8 ppg in hitting 38.2 percent of their total shots, which
includes a 30.1 percent showing from beyond the arc. Add favorable margins in
both rebounding (+4.3) and turnovers (+2.7) and it's easy to see why the team
is off to such a tremendous start. Gary Harris leads the way in scoring with
his 17.6 ppg, while Adreian Payne and Keith Appling are close behind with 16.6
and 16.0 ppg, respectively. Payne grabs 7.9 rpg, which ranks him second to
Branden Dawson's 9.2 rpg. Dawson nets 10.2 ppg, and it shouldn't surprise
anyone to see him averaging a double-double at some point this season. Appling
hands out 5.0 apg.
The Spartans controlled their recent outing against North Florida from the
opening tip, putting four players in double figures led by Payne and his 19
points. MSU, which won the game by 30 points (78-48), shot 52.9 percent from
the floor, while holding the Ospreys to a mere 29.6 percent. UNF missed 21 of
its 25 3-point tries. The Spartans won the game easily despite a miserable
night at the foul line (20-of-38).
Like its counterpart today, Texas has had very little trouble putting points
on the scoreboard, netting 79.5 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .444
overall and .347 from beyond the arc. The 'Horns have pounded the glass to the
tune of a resounding +9.7 rebounding margin, and they have been highly
effective in limiting the opposition to a field goal percentage of .392,
although their 3-point tries are finding the bottom of the net 36.3 percent of
the time. Texas boasts four double-digit scorers, although it relies more on
balance than one or two star players controlling the action. Jonathan Holmes
paces the group with 13.1 ppg, while Isaiah Taylor turns in 12.1 ppg, Demarcus
Holland 11.4 ppg and Javan Felix 10.9 ppg. Cameron Ridley and Holmes combine
for 14.7 of the team's 44.5 rpg, while Taylor and Felix gang up to dish out
6.8 of its 12.4 apg.
Taylor hit for 16 points, Holmes and Holland added 15 apiece, and Felix
chipped in a dozen as Texas upset North Carolina earlier in the week in Chapel
Hill. The Longhorns dropped only 40.3 percent of their total shots, but were
almost as effective from long range (8-of-21, .381), while logging a 51-42
rebounding differential. Additionally, the Tar Heels were limited to 38.5
percent field goal efficiency, and they went just 24-of-47 (.511) from the
If the 'Horns can somehow manage to win this game, they will have to be taken
seriously as they stare down what will obviously be another daunting Big 12
slate. In the end however, expect the Spartans to get impressive efforts from
Harris and Appling as they pick up a hard-fought road win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan State 72, Texas 67
12/21 10:31:49 ET
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