Sometimes, you just got to tip your hat to the other team.
Texas had no answer for Adreian Payne, who had 33 points and 9 rebounds on 10-13 shooting. He hit 3's, he scored on the block, he got out in transition -- he did a little bit of everything. There was nothing any of the Texas big men could do to stop him. If they didn't foul him, he was going to score.
On the whole, though, I think it was a good lesson for the young fellas. That's what an NBA big man looks like. If you want to be a serious basketball player at the next level, that's good how you have to be. I'm not saying any of them have Payne's talent, but they got an up close look at what the goal should be.
If not for Payne, the Longhorns would have had a pretty decent shot at winning. They carved out a lead in the first-half, when they got the game going up and down and kept it out of the half-court. For the most part, Texas won the guard battle, getting Keith Appling to lay an absolute egg of a performance.
In the second half, the Spartans buckled down on defense and began pounding the ball inside to Payne. They just suffocated the Texas offense until they couldn't breathe. I imagine that will be the game-plan against the Longhorns in the Big 12 -- grind them out and turn them over.
Barnes tried a press, but at that point, it was too late. Michigan State was clicking:
Don't even front. That's impressive.
Once they beat UNC in Chapel Hill, Texas was playing with house money. A win today might have all but clinched an NCAA Tournament spot, but there's still plenty to be excited about. At the end of last season, if you had told me they would be 10-2 at this point, I would not have believed you.
For me, the most exciting thing is that none of these guys have any business declaring for the draft. Pretty much everyone on this team should be back next season. Myles Turner was in the building for an unofficial visit today. Rick Barnes isn't dead yet.
A few other notes:
- Did anyone else get the sense we were bleeding points when Prince Ibeh was in? 1 rebound, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers and 3 fouls pretty well sums up his contributions. In the middle of the MSU run in the second half, he literally inbounded the ball to no one -- it landed near half-court without a UT guard within 20 feet of it. Obviously one of them should have come back to the ball, but just tossing it at the defense can't be the answer! I don't want to pick on the guy, but that was jaw-dropping. I had to rewind it like 3 times.
- Love the speed of the guards. They aren't very big, but the sheer numbers - Taylor, Yancy, Holland, Croaker, Felix, Walker - seemed to wear on the Spartans. When they get going, it's very exciting basketball. The main thing is hitting 3's; they'll need to go better than 6-17 from deep to beat the good Big 12 teams.
- I know Felix is J'onions, but some of the shots he takes, it's like he's not even trying to make them. Is the idea to generate offensive rebounds? I don't think he needs a green-light, especially for off-the-dribble jumpers. He's shooting 34% on the season! That has to be some kind of record.
- 17 points and 9 rebounds for Killa Cam Ridley. He's way ahead of where Dexter Pittman was as a sophomore. If he can get down to 260ish by his senior year, he could be a special player.
- They are going to need more from Connor Lammert. If he's not scoring in the flow of the offense, I'd like to see Texas run some pick-and-pops for him, try to open up the floor.
Home game against Rice on Monday, than it's off for Christmas and we're into Big 12 season. Should be fun.