The Michigan State Spartans are attempting to regain their position as the nation's best collegiate team. They got one step closer Saturday in Austin as the Spartans beat the Texas Longhorns 92-78 behind a monster effort from forward Adreian Payne. The senior finished with 33 points and nine rebounds, working both ends of the floor for Tom Izzo's team.
Texas got off to a good start, throwing ball down low to behemoth Cameron Ridley. The sophomore big man had 17 points on the day, giving Payne and the other Spartan bigs trouble in the post. But after trailing 54-52 midway through the second half, Michigan State's entire roster got going. Branden Dawson and Gary Harris got buckets on a 12-2 run that culminated in a drive-and-kick by Keith Appling, who hit Travis Trice for a crowd-silencing three-pointer.
Then Denzel Valentine and Dawson made this happen in transition:
The Spartans cruised from there, as Payne added to his scoring total from the free-throw line. The senior came into the game averaging 16.6 points and 7.9 rebounds, and has now scored in double digits in four straight games.
Michigan State moves on to play their final non-conference game next Saturday against New Orleans before beginning Big Ten play on New Year's Eve at the Penn St. Nittany Lions. Texas has a nine-day layoff before playing the Rice Owls on Dec. 30 in Austin.