Final: Freshmen combine for 64 points, MSU rolls over Nebraska 88-72
Without fifth-year senior guard Eron Harris, MSU men's basketball rolled over Nebraska, 88-72 . MSU men's basketball is now 17-11 overall, and 9-6 in the Big Ten.
The first 12 minutes of the first half were nothing out of the ordinary. MSU held a small lead however, they struggled to gain any momentum. A steal by freshman guard Cassius Winston though sparked all the energy needed for MSU to pull away.
His steal led to a two-man break, freshman forward Miles Bridges following feet behind Winston. Tossing the ball up gently, Winston's pass kissed the backboard, perfectly setting up Bridges for the two-handed slam.
With the Izzone now on their feet, Bridges followed up his dunk with a 3-pointer. Now up 15 points with the first half coming to a close, Winston added an energy play of his own.
Just three seconds remaining in the first half, Winston charged to half court, throwing up a prayer to end the half — swish.
His half court buzzer beater ended the first half — MSU in charge, 49-31.
In the second half, MSU went on cruise control.
The four freshman for MSU combined for 64 points, 20 rebounds and 9 assist.
Bridges and forward Nick Ward would lead the Spartans with 20 points, guard Joshua Langford with 17, and Winston with 7. Winston was in the driver's seat for the Spartans, leading the team with 8 assists.
MSU's defense would suffocate the Cornhuskers all game long. Limiting them to just 27 percent shooting from the field in the first half, Nebraska would end their night shooting 39 percent.
Nebraska's leading scorer, Tai Webster, scored 8 points in the first half, all coming from the free-throw line. He would end the game with 19 points, 11-12 from the free-throw line. He would add 10 rebounds for his double-double.
Senior guard Alvin Ellis III started for the injured Harris. In the first half, Ellis made poor decisions, throwing bad passes into the post for three turnovers. In the second half, he would make little difference, ending his night with 7 points on 1-6 shooting.
Three key stats for MSU against Nebraska were: points in the paint, fastbreak points and rebounding.
Rebounding, a staple for head coach Tom Izzo over his career, this season MSU only holds a plus-2.9 rebounding margin. Lacking critical size from the preseason injuries of Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling, the Spartans committed themselves to the glass. They would out rebound Nebraska by 5 rebounds.
The Spartans' active hands set up an 18-3 difference in second-chance points.
The Spartans attacked the rim early and often, outscoring Nebraska by 14 points in the paint. On the break, Winston used his vision to find open Spartans. They would out-run the Cornhuskers by 6 points.
Points- Bridges and Ward (20)
Rebounds- Ward (9)
Assists- Winston (8)
Points- Webster (19)
Rebounds- Webster (10)
Assists- 3 players with 3
MSU men's basketball will play Wisconsin at home on Feb. 26. That game will tip-off at 4 p.m. and be televised on CBS.
This will be the last home game of the season for the Spartans.