Saturday, July 24, 2021

FINAL: MSU 66, Nebraska 56, Spartans beat Cornhuskers despite 22 turnovers

February 6, 2021
<p>Forward Aaron Henry (0) makes a shot during the game against Nebraska on Feb. 6, 2021, at the Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Cornhuskers, 66-56.</p>

Forward Aaron Henry (0) makes a shot during the game against Nebraska on Feb. 6, 2021, at the Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Cornhuskers, 66-56.

Photo by Lauren Snyder | The State News

MSU needed the win.

It was sloppy, and despite a season-high 22 turnovers and a 2-of-10 shooting performance to close out the game, the Spartans (9-7, 3-7 Big Ten) defeated Nebraska, 66-56, in a barn burner at the Breslin Center.

Tonight was the second meeting between Nebraska (4-9, 0-6 Big Ten) and Michigan State, both teams slowly getting back into the swing of things after prolonged absences due to COVID. Penn State, so far, is the only other Big Ten school to have to bounce back from the virus. The University of Michigan will be added to that list after today's game was originally scheduled against the Wolverines.

The effects were there, and the mistakes were visible as MSU was careless with the ball.

The team still needs to pick up the effort in some areas. However, while it certainly wasn’t the best performance this season, it wasn’t the worst performance either as the Spartans scored 60-plus for the third straight game.

"The way I figured it out, we haven't won a game since January, in over a month, and it sounds worse than it actually is because of the pause we were under but you got to learn how to win and you got to learn how to lose. You don't just accept either one," head coach Tom Izzo said.

MSU led the game for nearly the entirety of the 40 minutes and snapped a four-game losing streak with the win.

Junior forward Aaron Henry made his usual shining star appearance, scoring a total of 16 points and going 6-for-14 from the field and 1-for-4 from the arc in 32 minutes of play. Joshua Langford backed up Henry with a team-high 18 points of his own, going 7-for-12 from the field and 4-for-6 from the arc.

Langford has scored in double figures in six of the last seven contests. Combined, the two added 10 rebounds and five assists.

Despite not playing more than 13 minutes in his second straight start, Marcus Bingham Jr. was the third-leading scorer on the team tonight. The junior scored six points and was 2-for-4 from the field and 0-for-1 from the arc.

Out of the five in the starting lineup, Joey Hauser was the only one to see the court and not score a single point.

Hauser fouled out with less than four minutes left in the game after missing a layup and lashing out in frustration. On a 0-for-3 shooting night, this was the second time in his collegiate career that he left a game scoreless. The last time was Feb. 9, 2019, with Marquette against Villanova.

This was the second game in a row that Thomas Kithier was not in the starting lineup, as opposed to the game against No. 8 Iowa where he raked in seven points despite not starting. He left the game early after claiming he didn't feel well.

"He was immediately removed, evaluated and placed in isolation – precautionary measure. He tested negative this morning and he will be kept in isolation overnight. He's also undergoing the PCR test," Izzo said, sending props to how fast the officials worked to notify everyone, that is, except him.

Gabe Brown made his debut for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19. According to the Big Ten Conference rules, athletes who test positive must sit on the bench for 17 days before they can return to the contest.

Over the week, Izzo said Brown had been practicing, but they were taking it easy as to not harm his health any further. He was not confirmed to play until he was seen warming up prior to tonight’s game.

Except, the junior forward’s performance tonight looked anything but easy.

In the short amount of time his feet made contact with the court, he added six points and seven rebounds. With four minutes left on the clock in the first half, Brown had made a layup on the fast break after an opponent's turnover, pushing the MSU lead to double digits.

In the second half, he came off the 3-point line for a killer second-chance dunk off of Hauser’s missed jumper. He made it known that he was back and he was raring to go.

Sophomore guard Rocket Watts added five points himself, while Malik Hall, Mady Sissoko and A.J. Hoggard each added two points of their own.

The Spartans made 39% of their field goals, 26% of their attempted three-pointers and 88% of their free throws.

On the other end, the Cornhuskers made 36% of their attempted field goals, 18% of their attempted three-pointers and 46% of their free throw, only leading in the game for a mere 28 seconds.

Nebraska guard Trey McGowens led the way for the Huskers, coming out with a total of 13 points and going 5-for-9 from the field, 0-for-1 from the arc in 32 minutes of playtime.

Fellow Husker forward Shamiel Stevenson, who laid out eight points, backed up McGowens.

The only other Huskers to score decent figures, at six and 10 points respectively, were guard Dalano Banton and forward Lat Mayen. Banton fouled out in the final 30 seconds of the game.

The Spartans will host the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-8) on Tuesday, Feb. 9. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.


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