The final score was a bit misleading, as MSU broke it wide open in the second half, outscoring Nebraska 47-29. But prior to that the Spartans got off to another slow start in the first half on the road. Michigan State had just a three-point lead at halftime against the struggling Cornhuskers. MSU also had 20 turnovers on the night, and somewhat struggled from the free throw line.
What the Spartans did well was rebound, nearly doubling Nebraska on the glass (51-26), and were particularly strong on the offensive glass, grabbing 16 against the Cornhuskers’ nine. MSU was also deadly from beyond the arc, hitting 13 three-pointers on 27 attempts (48.1 percent). Gabe Brown led the way from deep, hitting five shots in eight attempts. He finished with 17 points and four rebounds off the bench. Kyle Ahrens also provided a spark off the bench, scoring 14 points, with four three-pointers of his own, and seven rebounds.
In terms of starters, Cassius Winston led all scorers with 23 points and six assists. He made seven shots on 11 tries, including three-of-four three pointers. He did most of his damage in the second half. Xavier Tillman, right after the birth of his second child, was solid with 10 points (five-for-six from the field), 11 boards, two blocks, two assists and a steal. Aaron Henry also chipped in 11 points with nine rebounds and five assists.
Speaking of starters, the story of the night may have been Jack Hoiberg. He only scored four points with two assists in five minutes, but it was an incredible opportunity for the walk-on — against the school coached by his father, Fred — to show what he can do in front of his family. This was a class act move by head coach Tom Izzo.
Here is a clip of the Hoibergs talking about the experience:
Dachon Burke led Nebraska with 21 points and four three-pointers. Haanif Cheatham added 14 points and three assists, while Yvan Ouedraogo finished with 10 points and seven boards.
Michigan State improves to 10-6 in conference play and 18-9 overall. The Iowa Hawkeyes are also 10-6 in conference play, which means Tuesday night’s game in East Lansing between the two schools will have huge implications on how the Big Ten standings shake out.