No. 20 Michigan State used an 11-2 run over a four-minute stretch in the middle of the second half to distance itself from Texas and get a 67-56 victory Saturday at Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
The Spartans trailed by five points at halftime, but were helped along by increased intensity in the second by the frontcourt combination of Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne.
With his team up three with 14:54 remaining, Payne drove from the left wing past a defender and dunked the ball with authority. Two possessions later, he hit a fadeaway jumper as the shot clock expired to put Michigan State up by three, 43-40.
Michigan State led by as much as 10 points in the second half, but Texas was able to cut the lead to just four points by utilizing a 10-2 run with 5:23 remaining.
Texas had just two field goals in the last 6:35 of play, giving Michigan State the win.
Positive things happened for Tom Izzo’s team when the ball was worked into the paint with Nix and Payne.
Nix had by far his best game of the season, posting a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds. He was aggressive and intense on the block, complemented by Payne down low. Payne finished with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and six rebounds.
Michigan State will need more from its guards going forward, with 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting, three assists, and three turnovers. Freshman Gary Harris was 3-of-10 with nine points.