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Texas squanders first half lead, falls to Michigan State, 78-68

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The Longhorns started fast, but faltered late in the loss to Michigan State.

2018 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational - Michigan State v Texas Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

Less than 24 hours after outlasting No. 6 North Carolina, the Texas Longhorns had to take the floor yet again — this time around, against a No. 11 Michigan State team with the Las Vegas Invitational title at stake.

Texas was quite clearly the better team coming out of the gates, leading the first-half sprint, but the marathon — and the game — ultimately belonged to Michigan State, as a strong second-half showing from the Spartans sealed a 78-68 win over the Longhorns.

If the first few minutes were any indication, the Longhorns looked likely to run away with a convincing win over the Spartans. What was once a 4-2 lead less than two minutes into the action quickly ballooned into a 25-6 cushion after Courtney Ramey sank his second three within the first eight minutes, but then Michigan State began to mount its comeback.

At first, Michigan’s success was a slow drip, and Texas continued to find some points of its own. Despite the Spartans finally seeing shots fall, the Longhorns maintained a lengthy edge, owning a 34-16 cushion with less than six minutes remaining.

But it was Michigan State from there.

That 18-point Texas lead was trimmed to just eight by the break, thanks in large part to three-pointers from Joshua Langford, Aaron Henry, Kenny Goins, and Cassius Winston. Nevertheless, the Longhorns owned a 44-36 edge after intermission, and Matt Coleman quickly built upon that coming out of the break with a quick three of his own, but that was essentially the last true hope of the Longhorns pulling off their second upset in as many days.

Within a matter of minutes, Texas’ 11-point lead was entirely eradicated, with a Langford triple snagging Michigan State’s first lead of the game, 50-49. Dylan Osetkowski responded to re-capture the lead seconds later with a layup, but the Longhorns offense fell flat from the point forward.

As Michigan State poured on points in bunches — many of which came from the perimeter — Texas managed a mere 17 more points after Osetkowski’s lead-capturing layup.

When it was all said and done, Texas was outscored 42-24 in the second half.

Texas scrambled for some semblance of a late comeback down the stretch, as Michigan State’s 74-63 lead was cut to 74-68 with 50.7 seconds to play after a Kerwin Roach II connection from the perimeter, but it was too little too late for the Longhorns.

Roach (15), Coleman (13), Osetkowski (13), and Jaxson Hayes (11) each cracked double digits in the scoring column, but collectively, the Longhorns converted just 34.4 percent of their field goal looks (22-64) and only 26.5 percent (9-34) from the perimeter after starting 5-of-11. Another key factor in the Longhorns faltering throughout the second half? After forcing 10 Michigan State turnovers throughout the first eight minutes of action, Texas forced only eight more throughout the next 32 minutes.

With the loss, the Longhorns are now 5-1 on the season. Texas will be back in action next Friday, Nov. 30 at home against Radford.

This story will be updated.