You come at the king, you best not miss.
Nebraska did a lot of missing in its 86-57 loss at No. 3 Michigan State (7-1, 1-0) on Sunday afternoon. The Huskers (6-3, 0-1) had one of their best perimeter shooting games of the season, knocking down 10 of their 22 triples (45.5 percent), but they shot a putrid 7-of-40 inside the arc (17.5 percent).
Michigan State is the best interior defense in the country, allowing 35.3 percent on 2-point attempts to its opponents, and Nebraska found out why the hard way. The Spartans blocked 11 shots, out-scored the Huskers 32-8 in the paint and won the second chance points battle 21-11.
Junior guard James Palmer Jr. was the only Husker in double figures with 15 points on 4-of-12 from the field and 6-of-9 from the charity stripe, and he also dished out a team-best three assists. The next highest scorer was senior guard Evan taylor with eight.
Nebraska reached the first media timeout with the game tied at 5-all, but the Spartans took control with an 11-2 run. Senior guard Anton Gill checked in off the bench and knocked down a 3, but Nebraska went the next 7:51 without a field goal as the lead reached as much as 18 on a 3-pointer — Michigan State’s only triple of the first half — by sophomore forward Miles Bridges.
The Huskers weathered the storm, however, and closed the half on a 7-2 run capped by a 3-pointer from sophomore forward Isaiah Roby, who returned to the lineup after missing Nebraska’s last game with an ankle injury.
Roby finished with seven points and a team-best six rebounds in 23 minutes, knocking down another 3 in the second half to finish 2-for-2, the first multi-trey game of his Nebraska career.
Michigan State led 38-26 at the half. Nebraska shot just 6-of-24 from the field including 3-of-16 inside the arc against Michigan State’s long and talented front line. Palmer accounted for most of Nebraska’s offense with nine points including 5-of-6 from the foul line and two assists.
Bridges and sophomore forward Nick Ward gave the Huskers fits with 12 points apiece in the first half. As a team, the Spartans out-rebounded Nebraska 25-12 in the first half for a 15-0 edge in second chance points.
Ward didn’t slow down any in the second half, however, as the 6-foot-8 sophomore hit all three of his shots to finish with 22 points on 6-of-7 from the field and 10-of-13 from the foul line in just 16 minutes.
The Huskers never threatened in the second half as the Spartans began pulling away from the start and never stopped.
The Huskers have a quick turnaround as the second early Big Ten game is set for Tuesday in Lincoln. The No. 12 Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-1, 1-0) bounced back from their first loss of the season against No. 10 Miami to take down Rutgers on Sunday.
The game is set to tip at 8 p.m. on BTN.
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.