Michigan State halted Nebraska’s winning streak at two and swept the season series with the Huskers with an 88-72 drubbing in East Lansing on Thursday night.
The Huskers (12-15, 6-9) offered little resistance at the rim as the Spartans (17-11, 9-6) earned a 42-28 advantage in points in the paint, including a 22-4 edge in the first half alone.
The Huskers kept it close throughout the first 15 minutes, but Michigan State took control and pulled away over the final five of the first half with a 23-5 run to take a 49-31 lead into halftime. In fact, the Huskers only trailed by six near the three minute mark but did not hit a field goal the rest of the half.
Miles Bridges reeled off a personal 7-1 run as back-to-back turnovers by Nebraska led to run-outs by Bridges, the second an alley-oop off the backboard from fellow freshman Cassius Winston. After Jack McVeigh split a pair of free throws, Bridges went down an drilled a 3-pointer to push Michigan State’s lead to 14.
After a couple of missed shots, freshman Joshua Langford hit a 3-pointer of his own with about 13 seconds to play. Tai Webster earned a trip to the free-throw line and hit both to snap the run, but Winston answered with a buzzer-beater from just inside half court.
The Huskers made a couple runs, but never truly threatened in the second half as the deficit swung between 15 and 24 points throughout. Walk-on guard Malcolm Laws checked in and scored a layup on a breakaway with less than a minute to play to pull Nebraska within 14, but that was as close as they got.
Tai Webster led the way for the Huskers with a double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Most of his damage came from the free-throw line as he shot 11-of-12 from the charity stripe but just 3-of-9 from the field. Evan Taylor was the only other Husker in double figures with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting, capping his day with a powerful jam before fouling out.
Nebraska shot under 30 percent from the field for much of the game including 26.9 percent in the first half, but made a run in the second half to finish at 39 percent. Michigan State out-rebounded Nebraska 42-37 and outscored the Huskers 18-3 in second chance points.
Bridges and freshman center Nick Ward led the Spartans with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting apiece, while Ward added nine rebounds. Langford added 17 points.
The Huskers will return to Lincoln to host Illinois on Sunday for a 6:30 p.m. tip-off.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.