LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Michigan State finally broke through against Nebraska.
Miles Bridges scored 16 points to lead five Spartans in double figures, and they shot 63 percent in the second half to pull away from Nebraska for a 72-61 victory on Thursday night.
The Spartans (14-9, 6-4 Big Ten), who beat Michigan on Sunday, won consecutive games for the first time since December and ended a three-game losing streak against the Cornhuskers (10-12, 4-6).
“Nebraska has beaten us like a drum,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I don’t think we have any players that have beaten Nebraska.”
His team’s difficulties against the Huskers have been a head scratcher. Michigan State regularly is near the top of the Big Ten. Nebraska is usually near the bottom.
It wasn’t as if the Spartans’ players were obsessed with ending the skid.
“That’s the funny thing in the Twitter era,” Izzo said. “Nobody thinks about yesterday or the day before. People don’t think about the past as much. I didn’t hear that as a battle cry. Maybe that’s good.”
The Spartans’ Cassius Winston said he and his teammates came into the game looking at the big picture. Michigan State is trying to make the NCAA Tournament for the 20th straight year, and there’s a lot more work to be done to get there.
“We said there’s no more room for error,” Winston said. “If we want to make our dreams, our goals we put out at the beginning of the season – if we want to make them come true, we’ve got to play consistently for every game.”
Michigan State’s bench outscored Nebraska’s 31-9, with Alvin Ellis III scoring 11 points and Nick Ward and Winston adding 10 apiece. Kenny Goins also had 10 points.
Tai Webster had 18 points to lead Nebraska, Jordy Tschimanga added a season-high 15 points and nine rebounds and Glynn Watson Jr. scored 13.
Michigan State made eight of its first 10 3-pointers in the second half and finished 11 of 17. The Spartans took the lead 7 minutes into the game and were ahead by single digits until Winston’s 3-pointer made it 50-38 with 13:50 left. They led by as much as 20.
“We pushed through adversity when they were starting to come back,” Bridges said, “and we fought to bust the lead wide open.”
Bridges, the Spartans’ 6-foot-7, 230-pound freshman sensation, was 7 of 10 from the field, including 2 of 5 on 3s, and had a team-leading six rebounds.
“He’s so versatile,” the Huskers’ Evan Taylor said. “Especially to be that size, he can go both ways – shoot the 3, shoot mid-range. We didn’t do too bad of a job on him. Good players are going to make plays.”
Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue was at Pinnacle Bank Arena to have his Huskers jersey retired during a halftime ceremony. He played at Nebraska from 1995-98.
Michigan State: The Spartans won away from East Lansing for the first time since Dec. 27. Izzo says his team is still a long way from being very good, let alone great. He said 15 turnovers were too many and that the Spartans need to do a better job rebounding. Nebraska held a 32-27 edge on the glass and got 12 on the offensive end.
Nebraska: The Huskers couldn’t carry over the momentum from beating a then-No. 22 Purdue at home on Sunday, and now they’ve lost six of their last seven.
Goins made his first start since Dec. 18 in place of Ward, who had started 10 straight games. Both missed two practices because of illness, but Izzo said Goins started because he felt better than Ward.
“Ward and Goins are sicker than dogs,” Izzo said. “I’m happy they could go. If you watched both of them, they were dying.”
Michigan State visits Michigan on Tuesday. The Spartans beat Michigan 70-62 at home on Sunday.
Nebraska visits Iowa on Sunday. The Huskers beat Iowa 93-90 in double overtime at home on Jan. 5.
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