EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Rick Barnes hadn't seen a reason to double-team Michigan State center Derrick Nix. Neither had anyone else, but a lot of teams will when they look at Saturday's game tape.
Nix scored a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds, as the nation's No. 20 team surged past Texas 67-56 in its last home game of 2012.
"Tom has to like what he got out of Nix," Texas coach Rick Barnes said of a player who was averaging 7.5 points per game. "He did whatever he wanted. Those were Player of the Year numbers. I know we haven't had anyone dominate us that way."
Nix was 7-for-10 from the field and 11-for-13 at the line, a major improvement for a 64.9-percent foul shooter. He started the game by swishing a jump hook and never let up in a career-high 32 minutes.
"Nix and I have a love-hate relationship; I love to hate him sometimes," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said of a player who lost 70 pounds and overcame an arrest to become a captain. "He gets frustrated with himself sometimes, too. One of the hardest things to do is take criticism. But he has grown up a lot."
Keith Appling had 14 points and Adreian Payne added 13 for the Spartans (11-2), who stayed perfect in six December games as they move on to Big Ten play.
"I didn't get a scholarship here because they wanted to give it to me," Nix said. "I had to be doing something right. Today, they didn't double-team. I hit my first shot and tried to dominate the rest of the day."
Julien Lewis scored 16 points and Sheldon McClellan had 13 for the Longhoms (7-5), who couldn't match the efficiency of their 85-67 win over North Carolina Wednesday night.
"We had opportunities up until the last four minutes to win the game," Barnes said. "Our spacing wasn't good. But the big thing was we had to get a better effort for our post players. Nix went to work in there."
Texas had a chance to take a 42-41 lead but McClellan missed two free throws after a technical on Nix. The Spartans promptly grabbed a three-point lead on a jumper by Payne but missed a chance to build their advantage when Appling missed two of three foul shots and Payne was called for offensive goaltending. They took advantage on a second chance when two Nix free throws and an Appling 3 made it 49-40.
"It was disrespectful to step across my face that way," Nix said of a tumble-and tie-up led to some words he shouldn't have said. "That was an Allen Iverson move. I think I deserved a tech. But we responded."
It was 54-44 when the Longhorns cut the lead in half. A three-point play by Ioannis Papapetrou made a four-point game, and his jumper as the shot clock expired cut the margin to 56-54. After Payne and Appling built the lead back to six and Texas' Jonathan Holmes was called for charging, Nix added a free throw to build the lead back to seven.
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