After traveling over 9500 miles to play in their first two games, the Michigan State basketball team finally returned home to Breslin Center on Sunday to take on Texas Southern in the 2012-2013 season home-opener.
The game was part of this year’s Spartan Showcase, which is a five-team round-ribbon event that also features Boise State, Oakland, and Louisiana-Lafayette. All teams that Michigan State will play later this week.
As for the game on Sunday, it served as the second time in series history that Michigan State and Texas Southern clashed on the court. The last time being last year when the Spartans demolished the Tigers 76-41.
This year, similar things shook out as Michigan State jumped on top early and never looked back. Freshman Gary Harris poured in 14 points in the first half to help the Spartans build a 40-19 lead at the break.
In the second half, Michigan State continued to build on their lead and eventually closed out the game 69-41.
Harris led the way with 19 points on 7-10 shooting while sophomore Branden Dawson chipped in with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. Freshman Denzel Valentine also played well, scoring 8 points with 5 assists while limiting his turnovers to just one. All in all, it was a solid early season win for the Spartans and there were several interesting things to take note of.
One thing that raised some eyebrows early on was when sophomore Alex Gauna was inserted into the starting lineup for senior Derrick Nix. Nix, however, would eventually go in the game, scoring 6 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in 21 minutes of work.
“We’re still in a stage of trying to figure out who is going to be in our playing group,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. “I’m trying to look at different lineups and trying to get a couple of guys a chance to play and I figured this would be the game to do it.”
One of those guys who finally got his chance to play this season was freshman Matt Costello. Costello, who has been struggling with injury early on this season, got his first taste of college basketball, scoring 4 points and grabbing 3 rebounds in 11 minutes of action.
A cause of concern for the Spartans in this game, however, was the absence of sophomore guard Travis Trice, who missed his second consecutive game after suffering a broken nose and concussion in the season-opener against Connecticut. There is still no timetable on his return.
Nevertheless, moving forward Michigan State will have to take the things they’ve learned in this game and use them for the future. And they’ve got a busy week ahead of them where they can use these lessons. Up next on the slate for the Spartans, they’ll take on Boise State on Tuesday, Oakland on Friday, and Louisiana-Lafayette next Sunday.
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