November 16, 2006

Longhorns face first tough test

The Texas Longhorns face their first tough test of the season tonight at 8 p.m. at Madison Square Garden (ESPN2) against the 3-0 Michigan State Spartans in the semi-final round of the 2k College Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Classic. The Longhorns have won their first two games by an average of 42.5 points, but Thursday night will represent a stiff challenge against a Tom Izzo coached team.

The Michigan State Spartans advanced to New York with victories over Brown (45-34) and Youngstown State (86-51). While this season's Michigan State team may not throw out the multiple future NBA draft picks like Spartan teams of the past, this is a solid group that will defend physically, rebound the basketball and run a precise offense that puts constant pressure on an opponent's defensive rotation.

The Longhorns advanced to New York with victories over Alcorn State (103-44) and Chicago State (92-66) led by the scoring combination of Kevin Durant and A.J. Abrams. While the Longhorns have blown out their first two opponents, they have done so without dominating the glass and that aspect will be tested for 40-minutes tonight against a physical Michigan State team.

A LOOK AT MICHIGAN STATE

Michigan State enters tonight's game shooting 50.8 percent from the field, 50 percent from the three-point line and 78.3 percent from the foul line.

The Spartans hold a +14.7 rebounding margin and an assist/turnover ratio of 49/46.

Defensively, Michigan State surrenders 32 percent overall, 28.1 percent from three and 61.5 percent from the free throw line.

The Spartans have forced only 31 turnovers in three games on the season.

Junior guard Drew Neitzel leads the Spartans in scoring with an average of 13.7, while 6-foot-10 sophomore center Goran Suton leads the team in rebounding at 7.7 per game.

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