Nebraska (9-8, 0-4) visited East Lansing to take on the #18 Michigan State Spartans (14-3, 3-1) today. The Huskers came up short in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated.
In the first half, the Huskers started the game off hot, shooting the ball very well from the field. Shavon Sheilds got another start today and got things going for the Huskers scoring seven of the teams first 10 points. David Rivers, who earned his first start of the season led the way in the first half with 14 points and 4 rebounds for the Huskers. Nebraska's defense was not as crisp early on as usual, surrendering quite a few uncontested shots and allowing the Spartans to get shots around the rim. The Spartans were able to shoot 51% from the field in the first half against a stellar Nebraska defense. Despite shooting 41% from the field in the first half, it felt like the Huskers were making everything out there. They did surrender the lead with about 3 minutes left in the first half after multiple trips down the floor with awful shot selection, but regained the good ball movement and shot selection that got them the lead to tie the game up at 32 going into the half.
Nebraska came out sloppy in the second half turning the ball over and missing easy shots down low. Adreian Payne hit a three with 15:30 left to bring the crowd alive after he had a monster put back dunk in which he picked up a technical. Brandon Dawson went down for the Spartans but came back to a heroic welcome with 11:12 left in the game and the Spartans up 44-40. Despite his injury, he chipped in 12 points and 6 rebounds for the home team. The Huskers just couldn't get it done down the stretch and after a huge 3-pointer by Gary Harris put the Spartans up 58-54 with 1:51 left, the Huskers couldn't recover. In the end the low post duo of Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne were too much for Nebraska as they combined for 31 points and 8 rebounds.
Another game, another "moral victory" for Nebraska. You can feel the team playing with more and more confidence since the Ohio State game but at some point, will they be able to bust through the door and pull off an upset? Or will they take a step back and have that confidence broken by close losses? Only time will tell.
We may have an interesting rivalry brewing on the hardwood with the Spartans after that cheap alley-oop with the final seconds of the game ticking off. Tim Miles was not pleased.
Next up, the Huskers take on Purdue at The Bob on Wednesday at 8 p.m.