College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, December 21, 2013
After traveling to Chapel Hill and topping North Carolina, 86-83, this past Wednesday, the 10-1 Texas Longhorns were brimming with confidence in advance of their home game with the #5 Michigan State Spartans.
Even after the first half, with the Longhorns taking a 38-36 lead into the locker room, there was plenty of reason for optimism, but that changed through the second half, as Adreian Payne, who scored Michigan State's first nine points of the game and finished with 14 in the first half, went on a tear, scoring 19 of his game-high 33 points in the second half and the Spartans made 16 of 20 free throws in the final six minutes to run away for the 92-78 victory.
The Spartans broke the game open midway through the second half. Down 52-54, Michigan State went on a 14-2 run capped by a pair of Payne free throws to establish a 66-56 lead with 7:26 left.
Payne was perfect inside the three-point arc, making 10 of 13 shots. His only misses were from the other side of the line, where he was 2-for-5 on three-point attempts. Adding 11 of 12 from the foul line, Payne, a 6'10" senior out of Dayton, Ohio, just missed his fifth double-double of the season, hauling down nine rebounds. He did manage to set a personal high mark with the 33-point outburst, eclipsing his previous best of 29, set just a month ago in a 96-77 win over Virginia Tech.
The result dropped the Longhorns to 10-2, while Michigan State improved to 10-1. Ironically, Michigan State's only loss was to North Carolina, a 79-65 setback. The Spartans are 3-0 on the road this season and have just one more game - at home, against the New Orleans Privateers on December 29 - before opeing Big Ten play at Penn State on New Year's Eve.