Even though No. 5 Michigan State has a number of players dealing with injuries during the early part of this season, it didn’t stop them from earning a big 92-78 road win over Texas on Saturday.
Despite battling plantar fasciitis, senior forward Adreian Payne played one of the best games of this college basketball season as he put up 33 points and nine rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting from the field and 11-for-12 from the free throw line. Payne scored on both blocks over both shoulders, knocked in two three-pointers, worked the high post and generally looked unguardable for much of the game and the entire second half.
Michigan State is clearly banged up and in a game in which Keith Appling struggled to four points and two assists and Gary Harris (19 points) didn’t get going until the second half, Payne stepped up and carried the Spartans in the second half and either scored or got fouled nearly every time he touched the ball.
Appling (hip pointer), Harris (ankle), and backup point guard Travis Trice (foot blisters) all played through injuries for Michigan State — as starting forward Matt Costello continues to miss time due to mononucleosis — but Payne’s All-American performance kept Texas at bay.
The Longhorns actually led 38-36 at the half but the Spartans ramped up the defense in the second half, as they held Texas without a field goal for over five minutes with 11 minutes remaining as the Longhorns inexperience showed and Michigan State began to pull away.
The Spartans’ defense also did a great job disrupting the driving lanes of Isaiah Taylor, Demarcus Holland and Jevan Felix and limited those three to a combined 11-for-35 from the field while also closing out on Texas’ perimeter shooters and limiting them to 35 percent from behind the three-point line.
Another big key for Michigan State was controlling the glass. Texas was the No. 7 rebounding team in the country entering the game, but in the true spirit of Tom Izzo, the Spartans beat the Longhorns on the glass 43-33 as Payne, Branden Dawson (10 rebounds) and Denzel Valentine (11 rebounds) all pounded the glass throughout the game.
For the Spartans to pull off this road win with a depleted group is an impressive early-season win when you consider how good Texas had been playing coming off of their win earlier this week at North Carolina. While Texas didn’t get their second victory over a ranked opponent on the week, their young guards can learn a valuable lesson in how quickly a game can get away when good shots aren’t taken.