Payne Has Career Game as Spartans Down Longhorns

DEC 23 – Erwin Center was rocking on Saturday, as the upstart Texas Longhorns hosted number five-ranked Sparty. Rick Barnes’ squad was looking to avenge their 67-56 loss from last year in East Lansing.

Texas surprised many experts this year, starting the season 10-1 with an impressive win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. MSU came into the game shorthanded, with Matt Costello out due to illness and a banged-up Gary Harris coming off the bench.The Longhorns raced out of the gate, taking an early 11-4 lead in the first five minutes. But two quick buckets by Adreian Payne cut the gap to two. With Harris coming off the bench, Denzel Valentine was placed in the starting lineup and Travis Trice was also used heavily in the rotation.

There were questions about how Gary would play on a bum ankle, but his first basket erased those doubts. He exploded off that ankle along the baseline and finished with an acrobatic reverse layup.

MSU was in foul trouble for most of the first half, and Texas capitalized. They pounded the paint and out-rebounded the Spartans 20-18. With Alex Gauna barely seeing the court and Costello not playing, the Spartans were extremely thin in the post.

Texas’ big man Cameron Ridley had his way with whoever tried to guard him, scoring 13 and adding five boards in the first half. A last second shot by the Longhorns gave them a slim 38-36 lead at the half.

Travis Trice provided a much-needed spark off the bench for the Spartans in the first half, scoring eight points on 3-4 shooting from the field. Payne was hot from the outside, scoring 14 in the first frame on 6-7 shooting, to go along with two three-pointers. Harris was more of a distributor in the first, tallying four dimes.

The Spartans’ defense held the Longhorns to 35 percent first half shooting from the field, but Texas got to the charity stripe 13 times, converting on 11.

Adreian Payne continued his dominance in the second half. He was able to back down a much heavier Cameron Ridley on multiple occasions, and Texas was forced to double team him in the post. Texas had foul trouble in the second half, putting MSU in the bonus within the first eight minutes.

Payne picked up his third foul with just over 12 to play in the game, forcing Izzo to put him on the bench. But he returned two minutes later.

With about 10 minutes remaining in the game, MSU began a 14-4 run to take a 68-58 lead with just over five to play. MSU kept getting to the line and were actually making most of their free throws. MSU kept pulling away late, and with just over three minutes left, Valentine went on a fast break, lobbed the ball off the backboard for Dawson to flush down a commanding 13-point lead.

Texas could not cut the lead past 10, and MSU came away with the impressive road victory, 92-78. The Spartans heated up in the second half, scoring 56 points.

Payne had a career game in Austin, finishing with 33 points on 10-13 shooting from the field and 11-12 from the stripe. MSU as a team shot nearly 82 percent from the line. Harris showed that the ankle was not an issue, scoring 19 points with five assists. Dawson was a handful in the paint, with five offensive rebounds and numerous tip-ins. Trice added 11 points off the bench and Valentine had eight and 11.

Texas’ Cameron Ridley had a quiet second half, tallying only four points in the second frame. Freshman guard Isaiah Taylor scored 16 and dished out five assists. The Spartans out rebounded the Longhorns by 10 and held them to 39 percent shooting. The Spartans were efficient from the field, shooting an impressive 50 percent from the field.

The Spartans (10-1) appeared unfazed in their first true road game of the season. MSU has New Orleans up next at the Breslin Center on the 28th.

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2013-14 MSU Basketball Season Preview

Nov 8, 2013 – McNeese State will kick off the action for the Spartans on Friday before they head to the Windy City to take on John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats. But before the season begins, all of the experts have weighed in on how the Spartans will fare. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say about the green and white.

Bleacher Report recently published a list of the top 100 players in college basketball. They had four out of five of coach Tom Izzo’s starters on the list: Branden Dawson (88), Keith Appling (33), Adreian Payne (22), and Gary Harris (9). They also released their Big Ten predictions, putting MSU at the head of the class and Adreian Payne as the Big Ten Player of the Year. However, they have the Ohio State Buckeyes winning the B1G Tournament in Indy.

ESPN released their annual preseason poll, ranking MSU No. 2, behind Kentucky and in front of defending national champion Louisville. In a separate article, 18 out of 20 experts had the Spartans making the Final Four, with six writers predicting them to cut down the nets in Jerry-World Dallas in April. Three experts said that Tom Izzo would be Coach of the Year, and nobody picked a Spartan for Player of the Year.

CBS Sports released their preseason All-American teams, with Adreian Payne being the only Spartan selected, making the third team. Their top 25 slated Michigan State at No. 3, trading positions with Louisville. Their preseason bracketology gives Michigan State the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region, with Kentucky, Kansas, and Duke claiming the other three No. 1 seeds. For their Big Ten preview, the Spartans are again predicted to finish first. Gary Harris and Adreian Payne made the preseason All-Big Ten team, with Harris also picked as the preseason Player of the Year. Izzo was selected as the Coach of the Year as well. Their top 100 players list included Gary Harris (7), Adreian Payne (15), Branden Dawson (56), and Keith Appling (82).

According to CBS Sports, Las Vegas released their odds on several different categories in college basketball. For the National Championship, they gave MSU 9-1 odds, fifth best in the nation. For Player of the Year, they gave Adreian Payne 14-1 odds (ninth best) and gave Gary Harris 50-1 odds (13th best). They gave MSU 2-1 odds to win the Big Ten, tops in the conference.

Overall, everyone seems to be high on the Spartans this year, as expected. The season would be considered a disappointment if Sparty didn’t make the National Championship game. This is one of the deepest Michigan State teams that Izzo has been fortunate enough to coach in years, with four NBA prospects on the team and experience everywhere.

The Spartans will get a chance to prove themselves early in the season, facing No. 1 ranked Kentucky on Tuesday in Chicago. Izzo also scheduled North Carolina (12th in the AP poll, 11th in the ESPN/USA Today poll) on December 4 at home, and unranked Georgetown on Super Bowl Saturday at Madison Square Garden. This matchup might be the most intriguing because of its timing. Most coaches don’t schedule non-conference games in the middle of conference play, but Izzo isn’t most coaches. The Spartans have never been afraid of stiff competition in their non-conference schedule. Just last year, they played Connecticut, Miami, Texas and Kansas all before they started Big Ten play.

Froling’s Prediction: Michigan State will finish first in the Big Ten during the regular season and will win the tournament. Branden Dawson will be the most improved player, Gary Harris will be the Big Ten Player of the Year and finish in the top-five in the voting for Naismith Player of the Year, along with Adreian Payne, but Creighton’s Doug McDermott will take Player of the Year the honors. The Final Four in Dallas will include MSU, Kansas, Duke, and Ohio State, with MSU losing to Kansas in the Championship Game.

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