Nebraska continued their disappointing start to Big Ten Conference play on Saturday afternoon, falling to No. 16 Michigan State by the final score of 68-55. Despite the seemingly lopsided score, Nebraska fought hard throughout the game, slicing what was once a 15 point lead by the Spartans down to four with 3:38 left.
Coach Sadler threw a bit of a twist into the starting lineup for the Huskers. Josiah Moore received his first career start in place of Bo Spencer. Moore was not outstanding statistically – zero points, zero rebounds and one assist in nine minutes of action – but he didn’t hurt Nebraska either. When Spencer entered the game he was on a mission, hitting a couple of quick threes. He finished the game with 15 points. Brandon Richardson did a great job running the point. Nebraska only had two turnovers in the first half and 12 in the game. Richardson was obviously a key part of that. After the game Sadler said that the Huskers are trying to get Spencer off the ball so he can score more often. We’ll have to see if they can continue to make that happen.
Toney McCray continued his solid play of late. He was great on defense this afternoon to go along with his improved offensive game (14 points and six rebounds). The key seems to be the fact that he’s playing with an increased level of energy and confidence. He’s definitely one of the most dynamic players Nebraska has when he’s at the top of his game.
There was definitely a noticeable difference in athleticism between the two teams. Both coaches made indirect references to this: Coach Izzo said that Nebraska was one of the best coached and hardest playing teams they’ve matched up with this season, and Coach Sadler said that Nebraska played as hard as they have all year. So why did they lose by 13 points? Simple: Michigan St. had more athletic players than the Huskers. Here are a couple of examples. At one point in the game, the Spartans had 11 offensive rebounds to one for the Huskers. As hard as Nebraska was playing they couldn’t keep the more athletic Spartans off the glass. Something else that stuck out was points in the game when Draymond Green, Michigan State’s star player, was being guarded by Mike Fox. No offense to Fox – he played his tail off - but that’s a bad matchup athletically for the Huskers.
The turning point in the game was the start of the second half. Eight minutes into the period, Michigan St. was shooting a scalding 88.9 percent from the field on eight of nine shooting. They cooled down the rest of the way, but during that eight minute stretch they turned a 30-29 halftime deficit into a 49-34 lead. Nebraska was never able to recover from that.
The crowd was decent this afternoon. The attendance was 9,024, but at key points in the game they were loud. It seemed as though they were eager to get involved and on their feet when good things happened, but Nebraska was never able to sustain momentum.
- Josh Harvey -