Texas vs. Michigan State: Spartans face tough task in nonconference finale

Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

The Spartans finish their nonconference schedule Saturday against Texas, which is riding high a few days after routing another Top 25 team.

No. 20 Michigan State will end its non-conference schedule with a stiff test Saturday afternoon at home against Texas, which is coming off a signature, blowout win over No. 23 North Carolina on Wednesday.

The Spartans (10-2) have won five in a row, all against marginal foes. Michigan State hasn't faced a major conference opponent since Nov. 28, when it lost to Miami, 67-59, in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

The Longhorns (7-4) have struggled without point guard Myck Kabongo, who was suspended by the NCAA for 23 games Friday for receiving improper benefits from an agent and lying about it to university officials. That suspension includes the 11 games that Kabongo has already missed.

Without Kabongo, Texas has lost to Division II Chaminade and been blown out by No. 15 Georgetown, 64-41. But the Longhorns looked much improved Wednesday in routing the Tar Heels, 85-67.

Texas will bring the nation's second-ranked defense in terms of field goal percentage allowed to East Lansing. Opponents are only shooting 33.2 percent against the Longhorns this season. Meanwhile, the Spartans lead the Big 10 in field goal percentage defense (35.2 percent), so this matchup could be could be a low-scoring affair.

Both teams also struggle to take care of the ball, ranking last in their respective conferences in turnovers. The Spartans commit 15.6 turnovers per game, while the Longhorns give up the ball 17.4 times a contest.

Game time: 2 p.m.

TV: ESPN2

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