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Michigan State

No. 21 Spartans Play Texas Southern

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Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts during play against the Duke Blue Devils in 2011. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts during play against the Duke Blue Devils in 2011. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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EAST LANSING – Some criticized Tom Izzo’s penchant for tough scheduling after Michigan State’s disappointing loss in its opener. The benefits surfaced just four days later.

Now, the No. 21 Spartans may not be challenged for a while as they return to East Lansing to play Texas Southern in the first of four straight home games against lesser competition.

The Spartans are seeking their 36th consecutive win in a home opener. They last lost one in 1975 to Western Michigan.

Michigan State (1-1) is fresh off a 67-64 win over No. 7 Kansas on Tuesday. The Spartans looked less than stellar four days earlier in a 66-62 loss to now-23rd-ranked Connecticut in Germany. They shot 37.5 percent from the floor in that defeat but bounced back to hit 52.1 percent Tuesday.

“We got a little bit of our pride and character back after not playing well over there (in Germany),” Izzo said. “The trip wasn’t easy. It shows we have a lot of character.”

Izzo’s team looked headed to an 0-2 start, though, as Kansas held a 59-54 lead with five minutes left. Freshman Gary Harris made back-to-back baskets – he finished with 18 points – and free throws from Derrick Nix and Branden Dawson helped give the Spartans the lead. Keith Appling scored five of his 19 points in the final 1:36 to seal the victory.

“The offense was kind of stagnant, so I wanted to make a play the best way I possibly could,” said Appling, averaging a team-high 18.0 points after posting 11.4 per game last season as a sophomore.

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