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Spartans Snap Losing Streak In Double-Digit Win Over Huskers

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Michigan State Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans moved to 9-7 overall (3-7 in Big Ten action) with a win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers Saturday night. Nebraska, meanwhile, moves to 4-9 overall (0-6 in Big Ten). The Spartans snap a four-game losing streak with the win and move to 20-9 all-time against the Huskers, while extending the active MSU win streak in the series to eight-straight.

First Half

The game got off to quite the exciting start, and yes I am being sarcastic. When the score is 7-3 MSU in the lead by the first media timeout with 15:48 left, pretty sure we can all agree the game is going less than ideal at that point. The Spartans already had four misses by the break, but had at least avoided any turnovers to that point.

The next stretch of action did not improve much for Michigan State. Nebraska clawed back to take a brief 12-11 lead with 11:06 to go, but Joshua Langford responded with a three-pointer 17 seconds later to take the lead back. The score would remain 14-12 MSU into the media timeout with 9:35 to go in the half.

Not long thereafter, Nebraska seized the lead yet again with an and-one by Dalano Banton to make it 15-14 Nebraska with 9:25 left. This time it would be Marcus Bingham 11 seconds later to give Michigan State the lead back, up 16-15. Four missed shots, three turnovers, two fouls, and a media timeout later and Nebraska tied it up on a free throw at 16-all. However, when Gabe Brown responded with a jumper to make it 18-16 MSU with 7:09 to go, the Spartans would not surrender a lead again for the remainder of the game.

Brown’s shot kicked off a 7-0 run for Michigan State, and would go 14-4 with Nebraska managing just free throws for a span of 6:37 of game action. The Huskers managed just one field goal, a Shamiel Stevenson dunk with 1:05 left, while the Spartans would head into the locker room up 34-22.

Michigan State finished the half with 12 turnovers (seven forced) and 13 fouls compared to its 11 assists and five blocks. MSU shot a paltry 39 percent from the field (13-29), and 23.1 percent from deep (three makes on 13 attempts). Nebraska coughed the ball up just eight times, and, with no credit to MSU’s defense for the most part, shot just 25 percent from the floor (making seven shots on 28 tries).

Second Half

The Spartans came out of the locker room and traded points with Nebraska at first before pushing the lead to 14 with a three-pointer by Langford with 17:13 to go. However, extended scoring droughts by both teams saw little change on the scoreboard over the next stretch of action. Nebraska finally managed to make it a 10-point game with 11:54 to go on a pair of free throws by Shamiel Stevenson, and the score was only just at 44-34.

Continued struggles on offense for Michigan State ensued, but the Huskers cut it to single-digits and even got within seven points on a Dalano Banton layup with 8:53 to go. Langford pushed it right back to double-digits with a three-pointer 15 seconds later.

Nebraska kept refusing to give up down the stretch in the final minutes, but Foster Loyer extended the lead back out to double-digits with a pair of free throws with just 0:04 left on the clock. Kobe Webster tried to make it single digits for Nebraska on a last second layup, but missed and the final score was 66-56 Michigan State.

A win is a win, or I guess that is what we should tell ourselves here as Spartans fans. The stats box is best ignored as MSU finished the game with an eye gouging 22 turnovers, with Nebraska forcing 12. At least the rebounding was less gaudy, though it is a perpetual struggle typically under Coach Hoiberg in Lincoln. MSU won the glass 47-34, and managed seven points on second chance opportunties.

Langford led the Spartans in scoring with 18 points, while Aaron Henry added 16. No other Spartan managed to break double-digits in scoring. However, it was great seeing Langford go four-for-six from deep, and making seven of 12 shots from the field overall. Henry led in assists with five, while Foster Loyer added four.

Gabe Brown led the team in rebounds with seven, while Henry added six. Henry and Marcus Bingham Jr. led the team in blocks with two each, while Bingham led the team with three steals. Hauser ended up fouling out of the game with no points, just one board, and two turnovers.

Trey McGowens led Nebraska with 13 points, and Lat Mayen added 10. Teddy Allen scored just one three-pointer on 10 attempts overall from the field tonight despite averaging 18.4 pointers per game coming into tonight’s matchup.

The Big Ten circle of life this season seems to check out:

The Spartans return to action against Penn State in East Lansing on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 7:00 p.m. EST.