Michigan State opens home slate against Texas Southern

Playing their first home game of the 2012-13 season, the 21st-ranked Michigan State Spartans entertain the Tigers of Texas Southern in non-conference action on Sunday afternoon.

After opening the season with a pair of blowout losses to Boise State (81-63) and Northwestern (79-49), Texas Southern finally put one in the win column as it topped Louisiana on Friday, 74-71. The Tigers are coached by former UAB and Indiana head man Mike Davis, and they hope to make some noise in the Southwestern Athletic Conference this year, although before starting league play with a road game against Southern University on Jan. 2, 2013, the team will play tough non-conference bouts against Colorado, San Diego State, Houston and Kansas State, in addition to this clash with the Spartans of course.

Under the tutelage of the highly successful Tom Izzo, Michigan State typically plays an ambitious non-conference schedule, and this year is no different as the team has already taken on Connecticut (66-62 loss) and Kansas (67-64 win) in the first week, logging a ton of frequent flier miles in the process. The highest-profile game remaining prior to the start of Big Ten Conference play (at Minnesota on New Year's Eve) is a visit from Texas on Dec. 22. This tilt is the start of a four-game home stand for the Spartans, who will actually play nine of their next 11 in East Lansing.

This game represents the first meeting between Texas Southern and Michigan State on the hardwood.

It took a little longer than usual, but Texas Southern was able to secure its first victory of the season by outlasting Louisiana in Houston on Friday, winning in overtime by the score of 74-71. It was the first win for Davis at the school, and the team got solid individual efforts from Raymond Penn (17 points, four assists), Omar Strong (14 points, five rebounds), Fred Sturdivant (14 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks) and Kyrie Sutton (12 points, seven rebounds, three blocks). As a collective unit, the Tigers shot just 38.3 percent from the field, but claimed a 21-10 edge in points from the foul line while holding the Ragin' Cajuns to 36 percent field goal efficiency while goading them into 14 turnovers. Penn is averaging 18.3 points and 4.0 assists per game, while Strong nets 11.0 ppg despite hitting a mere 29.7 percent of his total shots.

Michigan State shot the ball poorly in the season-opening loss to UConn in Germany (.382), but rebounded to drain 52.1 percent of its field goal attempts in the win over Kansas, all while claiming a 31-25 rebounding advantage and taking advantage of 16 turnovers by the Jayhawks. The Spartans were guilty of 17 miscues in the contest, but Keith Appling scored 19 points, Gary Harris added 18 and Branden Dawson chipped in with 12 to help offset any mistakes the team may have made. Appling was high man as well in the season opener (17 points), and he is shooting an even 50 percent from the floor while also handing out 3.5 apg. MSU is hitting its free throws at a 76.7 percent clip, and the team boasts three double-digit scorers in all, with Harris (14.5 ppg) and Dawson (13.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 4.0 spg) delivering when called upon as well.