Michigan State comfortably put away the visiting Nebraska Cornhuskers in its return to Big Ten play, winning 74-56. The Spartans are now 2-1 in conference play.
Senior guard Tyson Walker had an electric evening, finishing with 21 points - sixteen of which came in the first half alone.
The Spartans were dominant on the glass, outrebounding the Cornhuskers 46 to 29. Junior center Mady Sissoko and graduate senior forward Joey Hauser led the way on the boards, each finishing with 10 rebounds.
The first half was especially impressive for the Spartans. Michigan State controlled nearly all 20 minutes of the first half, heading to the locker room with a 22-point lead.
Some Big Ten speed was on display in the opening minutes, with both teams racing up and down the court. As the half wore on, that speedy pace of play began to clearly benefit the home team as MSU’s offense looked as smooth as it has in weeks. The Spartans kept up with that quick pace while still staying responsible and efficient with the ball.
Walker was responsible for a good chunk of MSU’s offensive firepower in the first half. He was red-hot from the jump, scoring seven of Michigan State’s first nine points. Walker finished the half with 16 points.
While he wasn’t quite the offensive force that Walker was in the opening 20 minutes, Sissoko also had a strong first half. He was strong on the boards (five rebounds) and stout defensively (notched two blocks), adding a field goal for good measure.
Defensively, the Spartans were just as impressive. Nebraska went into the locker room with just 17 points, shooting under 30% from the field and a paltry 9% from beyond the arch. The Cornhuskers turned the ball over seven times in the first 20 minutes, with MSU scoring 11 points off of said turnovers.
Compared to the first half, the second was a much slower affair for both squads. However, Michigan State was able to cling on to its hefty lead for most of the second, never letting the visitors reach a single-digit deficit.
In the second half, the offense was spread across the lineup. Led by freshman forward Jaxon Kohler’s six points, the bench scored 16, nearly half of Michigan State’s second half points.
Nebraska went on a few scoring runs in the latter half of the second, but Michigan State responded each time. During those hot stretches, the Spartans helped out the visitors with a multitude of fouls. After shooting just a couple of free throws in the first half, Nebraska went to the line 18 times in the second. Luckily for MSU, the visitors' free throw shooting percentage was just 40% by the end of the evening.
Despite those few good stretches from the visitors, Michigan State put on the clamps in the closing minutes, re-taking a more than 20-point lead to close things out.
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