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Reviewing the Michigan State-Texas Series

Piggy-backing on LVS's fanshot from last week, the date for next season's MSU-Texas game in Austin has been set for Tuesday, December 22.  The game will be the sixth meeting between the two teams since 1999, with a seventh meeting slated for the 2010-11 season in East Lansing.

The games between the Spartans and Longhorns have generally been pretty exciting contests.  Here are brief capsules on each of the six games.  (Note that the two teams had never met prior to the 1999 game).

November 27, 1999 (Puerto Rico)
Texas 81-MSU 74
All five Longhorn starters hit double digits, with Chris Mihm leading the way with 19 points.  Andre Hutson led MSU with 17 points and 7 rebounds.  Filling in at point guard for an injured Mateen Cleaves, Charlie Bell failed to record an assist.  MSU blew a 7-point halftime lead en route to their first of seven losses in a season that would ultimately lead to a national championship.

March 30, 2003 (San Antonio)
Texas 85-MSU 76
The #1 seeded Longhorns prevailed over the #7 seeded Spartans in the final of the NCAA Tournament's South regional.  Travis Ford led Texas with 19 points and 10 assists.  Paul Davis (15 points) and Erazem Lorbek (14 points) led MSU in scoring.  This game remains the only blemish on Tom Izzo's 5-1 record in regional championship games.

November 16, 2006 (New York)
MSU 63-Texas 61
A.J. Abrams and some freshman named Kevin Durant both hit the 20-point mark for Texas, but the rest of the Longhorns combined for just 18 points.  MSU's own freshman star, Raymar Morgan, led the team in scoring with 18, but it was junior Drew Neitzel who sliced through the defense and laid the ball in to win the game in the final seconds.

December 22, 2007 (Auburn Hills)
MSU 78-Texas 72
Kalin Lucas's coming out party: 18 points, 6 assists.  A.J. Abrams scored 24 points on a late 3-point shooting flurry and D.J. Augustin had 22, but MSU's balanced, up-tempo attack built a second-half double-digit lead that Texas couldn't overcome.

December 20, 2008 (Houston)
MSU 67-Texas 63
Goran Suton led MSU in scoring with 18 points, but Durrell Summers was the hero, hitting a 3-pointer off a Raymar Morgan pass to put MSU up by 2 with 19 seconds left.  On the other end of the court, Travis Walton held A.J. Abrams to just 8 points on 3-10 FG shooting.

I was curious as to where Texas ranks in terms of how many times MSU has played different nonconference opponents under Tom Izzo.  It turns out they're tied for fourth behind Oakland, North Carolina, and Kentucky:

Opponent G W L
Oakland 8 8 0
North Carolina 8 2 6
Kentucky 6 4 2
IPFW 5 5 0
Texas 5 3 2
Duke 5 1 4
Cleveland State 4 4 0
East Tennessee State 4 4 0
UNC Ashville 4 4 0
Wisconsin-Green Bay 4 4 0
Florida 4 3 1
Illinois-Chicago 4 3 1
Kansas 4 3 1
Arizona 4 2 2
Oklahoma 4 2 2
Oklahoma State 4 2 2
Temple 4 2 2
Detroit 4 1 3
Syracuse 4 1 3
Bradley 3 3 0
South Florida 3 3 0
Central Michigan 3 2 1
Connecticut 3 2 1
Gonzaga 3 2 1
Louisville 3 2 1
Wright State 3 2 1
Fresno State 3 1 2
Maryland 3 1 2
UCLA 3 1 2

The remarkable thing about this list is that Izzo has now played at least three games against every team in the top ten of Mike Miller's list of the greatest college basketball programs of all time.  (The NCAA Tournament games against Louisville and UConn made that happen.)  That's as good a testament as any to the attitude and success Tom Izzo has brought to the Michigan State basketball program over the last 14 years: scheduling as many top-notch nonconference oponents as anyone in the country and regularly making deep runs into the NCAA Tournament.

The fact that Texas is booked for two more years will help continue that track record of playing elite opponents outside conference play.  Given that we don't have an ongoing nonconference series against a major conference team (ala Indiana-Kentucky or Michigan-Duke), it'd be great to see the series extended even further.