Despite continued injury issues to several key players, Michigan State escaped Austin with a big win over Texas this afternoon, winning by a score of 92-78. The man of the hour was Adreian Payne. It was a big day for the big man, who logged a career-high 33 points. Payne just missed a double-double with nine rebounds and went 11-for-12 from the free-throw line. He won the matchup down low and contributed a pair of three balls to boot.
The final score is a poor indicator of the game itself, which was a true nail-biter until midway through the second half. The young Texas squad gave the seasoned Spartans a run for their money by outperforming season averages in both three-point shooting and free throw percentage. The Longhorns succeeded in moving the ball around and getting everyone involved on offense – four players scored in double-digits. For a time, it looked like Texas might beat Michigan State at its own game, as rebound totals were close to even at halftime.
But Payne showed that he is a man among boys today. His dynamic inside-out game proved too much for Texas, and he almost single-handedly kept the Spartans in the game during the first half as they struggled with turnovers and foul trouble.
In the second half, Payne got a little help from his friends. Michigan State got down to business, taking over with transition offense and getting back to Spartan basketball at its best. They exploded for 56 points in the half and ended the game with 54 rebounds overall.
Michigan State also got encouraging contributions from injury-plagued guards Gary Harris and Travis Trice. Both came off the bench to contribute double-digit scoring for the Spartans.
The Spartan faithful have a lot to be optimistic about today after a successful trip to Austin, but the game ball goes to Payne. Today’s outcome gave weight to a common opinion this year – as Payne goes, so go the Spartans.