Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is eager to put a one-game suspension behind him. With yet another tough matchup looming, he hopes his team has as well.
Izzo will return to the bench Wednesday night when the 12th-ranked Spartans put their 52-game non-conference home winning streak on the line against No. 18 Texas.After nearly being upset by Oakland, Mich., on Dec. 11 before pulling off a one-point victory, Michigan State (8-3) had a much easier time against Prairie View A&M on Saturday, cruising to 90-51 victory.Izzo was not with the team after being suspended for a secondary violation of NCAA rules related to a summer basketball camp. Michigan State said Friday that the school employed someone associated with a potential recruit during the June camp."One of the worst and most embarrassing things of my coaching career," Izzo said. "I served my sentence and I'm moving on."Izzo watched on television as his Spartans easily handled the overmatched Panthers. Durrell Summers scored a season-high 25 points and Kalin Lucas had 10 points, eight assists and three steals.Texas is the fifth team Michigan State will face that has been ranked at some point this season, and the Spartans have had some trouble in those games. They defeated then-No. 13 Washington 76-71 on Nov. 24, but lost 84-79 to No. 1 Duke on Dec. 1 and 72-58 to then-eighth-ranked Syracuse on Dec. 7.Michigan State also faced Connecticut, which was unranked at the time but is now fourth in the poll, on Nov. 23. The Spartans lost that game 70-67.After back-to-back matchups with lesser opponents, Michigan State gets right back to its brutal schedule with the Longhorns coming to town."I think this will be arguably the best team we've brought in here in a few years," Izzo said. "I think it's the most talented team that we might've played all year so far, as far as NBA basketball athlete talent."Izzo hopes he has a healthy team against Texas. Korie Lucious aggravated a right ankle injury Saturday while fellow guard Keith Appling hit his head in the first half and did not return. Izzo and Appling said it wasn't a concussion.Wednesday's game will be Michigan State's final one out of conference. The Spartans open Big Ten play Dec. 31 by hosting Minnesota.Texas (9-2) brings a three-game winning streak into the Breslin Center, having defeated North Carolina 78-76 on Saturday on Cory Joseph's turnaround jumper with 1.4 seconds left.Joseph scored a season-high 21 points for the Longhorns, who trailed for most of the second half before rallying in the final three minutes. Jordan Hamilton powered the comeback by scoring 17 of his team-high 24 points after the break."I thought our guys were really tough in the last 4 minutes," coach Rick Barnes said. "We had a lot of different guys step up and do some things. But I just told the team that from top to bottom, this is as good of a team win as we've had in a long, long time."Joseph's numbers have taken a jump as the freshman has become aggressive offensively. Over his first six games, he averaged 8.0 points and shot 38.1 percent while taking 7.0 shots per game. In the last five contests, he's averaged 16.6 points on 51.7 percent from the field while taking 11.6 shots.Like Michigan State, Texas has played a challenging non-conference schedule. It beat then-No. 13 Illinois 90-84 in overtime Nov. 18 and lost 68-66 to then-No. 5 Pittsburgh the next day. The Longhorns face UConn on Jan. 8.Michigan State and Texas will be meeting for the fifth straight season and sixth time overall, with the series tied at 3. This will be their first matchup at the Breslin Center, as five of the previous games came at neutral sites.Then-No. 2 Texas defeated then-No. 9 Michigan State 79-68 at Austin last Dec. 22, breaking a three-game skid to the Spartans.