The Michigan State Spartans avoided dropping into sole possession of last place in the Big Ten and picked up a badly needed conference win at Nebraska tonight. The Spartans’ 84-77 win had flashes of dominance at times fans missed seeing the last few games, but also saw a pesky Nebraska Cornhuskers squad refuse to go quietly.
The first half was a back and forth affair for much of it. There were six lead changes and it was tied up four times. Michigan State never let the Cornhuskers get up by more than three and finally started pulling away with just over six minutes left in the half. The Spartans extended the lead to eight at one point and went into the locker room at half up by seven, 40-33.
Josh Langford was the first to score in this one for any team, hitting a pair of free throws just over 40 seconds into game play. It was a back and forth contest before Nebraska took a narrow lead and left MSU chasing it for a time. Despite the Huskers’ leading scorer, Teddy Allen, being called for a flagrant one after elbowing Aaron Henry in the neck with 10:45 left and riding the bench for the rest of the half as a result, MSU couldn’t pull away until late in the half. The Spartans managed 11 points in the final 5:45 of the half to finished with the half with 40.
The Spartans went into this matchup needing energy on defense, even if they continued to struggle on offense. That seemed to finally be the case in the first half. MSU finished the half with four blocks and held the Huskers to 44 percent shooting from the field on 11-25 shooting. The Spartans got six points off of turnovers, three of those forced. Meanwhile, 12 of Nebraska’s 33 first half points did come from inside the paint. That, and Nebraska, a truly atrocious rebounding team, out-rebounded MSU 16-10.
Aaron Henry led MSU with 17 points in the first half, while Langford was the next closest with six points. Trey McGowens led Nebraska with 15 points.
Michigan State came out of the locker room with a 7-0 run. The Spartans managed to push it out to a 16-point lead, up 54-38 off a Langford jumper with 16:38 left. The Huskers refused to go quietly, though. They came back within 10 at the 13:34 mark and didn’t let up. Despite getting leads of up to 14 again after, MSU faded down the stretch. Nebraska managed to get within five multiple times including the final score of 84-77.
The Spartans finished the game still in the negative on the glass, 31-29. Offensive boards were even at nine, but MSU was out-rebounded on the glass on the defensive end 22-20. The Huskers were hot from deep, shooting 47.4 percent, making nine of 19 attempts. Meanwhile, Michigan State managed to shoot 51.8 percent overall from the floor, though just 30.4 from three-point range with seven makes on 23 attempts.
AJ Hoggard was the name of the night in a large way as he may have played his way into the lineup moving forward. His four points and team high five assists were good to see for MSU fans wanting an answer at point guard moving forward. Meanwhile, Henry finally broke his shooting drought. He went three-for-five from three-point range and scored a team high 27 points. Langford’s 15 and Brown’s 10 rounded out the double-digit scorers.
Teddy Allen for Nebraska led the Huskers with 23 points and Trey McGowens was close behind with 20 of his own. Kobe Webster hit double-digits with 10 points.
The Spartans are back in action in East Lansing Tuesday night against Rutgers at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN2.