East Lansing, MI – Michigan State basketball returned home to face Nebraska, a team with a near month layoff due to COVID-19 issues within their program, and both squads looked out of sorts.
After hitting on all cylinders at Iowa, albeit falling short, the Spartans committed 12 turnovers, continuously missed open looks, and allowed Nebraska to keep it close for most of the first half.
So how did MSU enter the locker room up 12-points at intermission?
Nebraska happened; Fred Hoiberg, the Huskers head coach, anticipated subbing guys in and out every few minutes due to their conditioning level.
It proved right in the final 8:13 as NU made one of its final ten field goal attempts, allowing Michigan State to regain their footing and finish the half on an 18-6 run.
Even so, the Spartans had a ton to clean up before the second half inbound with multiple players in foul trouble, including Joshua Langford, Foster Loyer, and A.J. Hoggard.
Not to mention the mostly dreadful 13-minutes Rocket Watts logged – he led MSU with four giveaways, threw up ill-advised shots, and lacked a sense of urgency running the offense (only played three minutes in second half).
Either way, there's no reason Michigan State shouldn't run Nebraska out of the gym, considering they haven't played since Jan. 10 and are still the worst team in the conference in adjusted efficiency margin.
Yet, it was another sloppy finish.
First, Joey Hauser picked up his third foul and was immediately yanked; then Bingham attempted a 3-pointer on an inbounds play; needless to say, Tom Izzo wasn't pleased, and he joined him on the bench.
The Spartans may have led by 12-points with less than 11-minutes to go, but offensively, they opened the half 5-for-13 (38.5%) with four additional turnovers.
And they kept piling up.
Michigan State's 19th turnover (finished with a season-high 22) led to another media timeout (8:00); NU wouldn't go away, knocking the lead down to single-digits.
The opportunity to extend its lead was there all night, but MSU could not take advantage, and with less than four minutes to go, the Spartans missed seven consecutive shots.
Around the same time, Hauser fouled out as the redshirt junior had a night to forget. He was held scoreless for the second time in his career in 14 minutes of action.
It wasn't pretty, but in the end, Michigan State held on to snap a four-game losing streak and win its first contest since Jan. 5.
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