The biggest game in PBA since Kansas last year, #6 Michigan State came to Lincoln on an 18 game conference win streak. Meanwhile, Nebraska has won 20 games in a row at home. Read below to see what happened in this blockbuster matchup of the week.
Miles Jacket Tracker: I was way too focused on this game and the team that I forgot to look at Miles. I wouldn’t be surprised if Miles had his jacket off before tip-off.
Michigan State came into this game as the number one three point shooting team in the Big Ten, boasting the top two players in that category, Cassius Winston and Matt McQuaid. So naturally, the two players on their team averaging less than 25% made two threes right off the bat, Kenny Goins and Nick Ward.
Nebraska responded well though, thanks to a quick seven points from Isaac Copeland. Cope hit a three early on, then a thunderdunk to get the crowd going and switch the momentum over for a Huskers 8-0 run.
Glynn Watson Jr. really brought the crowd alive during that run after a crossover, semi-ankle breaker three. Watson took advantage of his matchup as soon as Winston came out.
After that three the offense went a little stagnant, allowing the Spartans to regain the lead 20-19 at the U8 Media Timeout.
Coming out of the timeout the Huskers had the ball under Michigan State’s basket, and Tim Miles drew up the perfect play. Thomas Allen Jr. came around a Copeland screen a hit a three to take the lead. In the Kansas game last year Allen had a huge game, maybe he has a knack for coming up big in big games.
However, Nebraska could not have finished that half any worse, surrendering a four point lead, and giving Michigan State a 7-0 run to lead 33-28. As soon as Isaiah Roby received his second foul and went to the bench, that’s when Nebraska fell out of rhythm. Winston killed them in the first half also, scoring 16 points. For quick math, basically half of the Spartans points.
James Palmer Jr did not play well at all offensively in the first half, shooting 1-7 and committing a pair of turnovers. So maybe he would come out the gates hot in the second half? Nope, first possession Palmer lost the ball, and went on to miss his first three shot attempts. Recently Palmer has struggled, so he needs to turn it around before the heart of conference play.
Other than that, the start to the second half went up and down for Nebraska. Mostly up on defense, but down on offense. Credit Michigan State’s defense for that, constantly forcing the Huskers to take bad shots at the end of the shot clock. Michigan State led 44-40 at the U12 Media Timeout after a bank-in three and two point floater by Winston.
After tying the game up at 44-44, the momentum was slowly creeping towards their side, but to only let Michigan State go on a 7-0 run heading into the U8 Media Timeout. Dropped balls and missed layups allowed the Spartans to get into transition, and when that happens, there is no stopping them.
The last ten minutes was a game of runs, Michigan State went on that 7-0 run, then Nebraska responded with a 4-0 run. But then MSU went on a 5-0 run. Michigan State began to run away with this game, leading by as much as 12 with under two minutes left. However, a late push by Nebraska cut the lead significantly, even getting it down to as low as 4.
Credit Nebraska for fighting until the end. Play with that fire for the rest of conference play and you’re winning a lot of games.
Overall problem with this game? Michigan State is just the better team. The Spartans held every single Nebraska player in check on offense, with the exception of Thomas Allen, and made their threes on offense. In addition to Michigan State’s talent, Nebraska could not make a three for their life, missing sixteen straight before a late JPJ three.
Final Score: Nebraska 64 Michigan State 70
Next game is Monday (1/21), MLK Day, at Rutgers. Let’s hope this game doesn’t haunt some of the players and the Huskers can pick up a “get back on track” win.