The game between the No. 5 Longhorns and the No. 19/No. 22 Michigan State Spartans this Sunday has lost a lot of its preseason luster due to a couple of Michigan State losses. In those games, the Spartans looked like they had no business being ranked in the top 25.
With that being said, the Spartans are still a very dangerous team. They are two-deep at every position; with Sutton returning from injury, they will be a little deeper. Their only problem is that they haven't been able to stop anybody this year.
That is one of the reasons this game is going to be a very tough one for the Longhorns. The Spartans have been embarrassed twice this year on TV and surely won't allow it to happen a third time.
Another reason this is a tough test for Texas is that Michigan State matches up up so well with the Longhorns. These teams are almost mirror images of each other.
Take the matchup between Raymar Morgan and Damion James, for example. Both players are cut from the same cloth. Matchups like Sutton and Atchley, Mason and Walton, Delvon Roe and Gary Johnson. All of these guys match up extremely well with each other. The Spartans even have a couple of bigs to throw at Big Dex.
Dexter will have a big game, though. Michigan State, like all of the teams in the country, cannot guard him. They'll get in foul trouble if Dexter is aggressive and looking to score. In my opinion, foul trouble will decide this game.
I saw Michigan State play against Maryland with Raymar Morgan in foul trouble and they looked terrible. Texas, on the other hand, can play with different lineups, so fouls won't be as much as a problem. Here are some other keys to the game:
1. Push the rock. The Longhorns are too good defensively in the half court
2. Stay out of foul trouble. Michigan State has a lot of talented players; most of them are young.
3. Get Raymar Morgan going early. The Spartans' best player needs to have a big game.
4. Find AJ Abrams and don't leave him. If Michigan State lets Abrams get going early, it will be over by halftime.
5. Hit the offensive glass. The one weakness the Longhorns have is that they allow a lot of offensive rebounds.
1. Get the ball to Dexter. He's averaging nine points in 12 minutes per game.
2. Box out. The Horns gave up offensive rebounds at key moments late in the game in their one and only loss to Notre Dame earlier this year.
3. Make free throws! AJ Abrams is shooting a career-low 86 percent, Dexter Pittman is at 73 percent, Connor Atchley is at 67 percent, and the rest of the Longhorns are shooting in the 50s.
4. Don't underestimate the Spartans. Michigan State is no fluke.