(8) Michigan State (21-4) at Nebraska (12-13)|
Saturday, February 16, 8 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bob Devaney Sports Center (13,595) -- Lincoln, Nebraska.
Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: MSU 15-0, Nebraska 9-6. Away Record:
MSU 5-3, Nebraska 2-7. Neutral Record: MSU 1-1, Nebraska 1-0. Conference
Record: MSU 10-2, Nebraska 3-9. Series Record: Michigan State leads, 11-6.
GAME NOTES: The eighth-ranked Michigan State Spartans will try to continue as
the hottest team in the Big Ten Conference, as they challenge the Nebraska
Cornhuskers at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday night.
Michigan State has won four straight games, and 10 of its last 11 to improve
to 21-4 overall, with its latest triumph coming in convincing fashion over No.
4 Michigan at home on Tuesday night, 75-52. The Spartans' hot streak has
allowed them to move to 10-2 in conference, which ties them with Indiana for
In a Big Ten chock full of outstanding teams, Nebraska has failed to impress,
as it sits below .500 overall (12-13) and just 3-9 in league play. The
Cornhuskers were able to claim a home win over last-place Penn State last
Saturday (67-53), but they fell back to their losing ways at Indiana on
Wednesday, ending up on the wrong end of a 76-47 final.
Michigan State dismissed Nebraska in East Lansing on Jan. 13, 66-56, to take
an 11-6 lead in the all-time series.
The Spartans impressed at the offensive end against Michigan earlier in the
week, shooting 48.4 percent from the floor, but the real story was their
ability to stifle one of the nation's top scoring squads. They held the
Wolverines to under 40 percent field goal shooting while forcing 16 turnovers
on their way to the 23-point statement victory. Gary Harris put on a display
from 3-point range, shooting 5-of-9 from beyond the arc for 17 points. Derrick
Nix was also solid with 14 points on 6-of-9 from the floor, while Keith
Appling and Branden Dawson added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Michigan
State is no stranger to outstanding defensive efforts, as it holds opponents
to just 58.9 ppg on 39 percent shooting, and it scores more than enough points
(69.9 ppg) to keep pace. The team's top scorers reside in the backcourt, with
Appling (14.0 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Harris (12.9 ppg, .436 3PT FG percentage) both
putting forth strong seasons. Rounding out the starting five is a solid trio
of forwards in Dawson (10.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg), Nix (9.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg),
and Adreian Payne (9.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.2 bpg).
Nebraska had its hands full on the road against one of the nation's elite
teams on Wednesday, and it left Bloomington with a 29-point defeat by shooting
just 36.2 percent from the floor while allowing Indiana to shoot nearly 46
percent. It was also outscored at the foul line, 24-9, and lost the rebounding
battle by a 36-24 margin. Dylan Talley had the only noteworthy performance
with 16 points on 7-of-12 from the field. The Cornhuskers are oftentimes able
to hold the opposition to low point totals (62.4 ppg), but unfortunately they
don't do much to support that defensive effort, as they rank last in the Big
Ten in putting up only 58.6 ppg. Talley is the team's leading scorer with 13.2
ppg, but his poor field goal percentage (.359) has been a detriment. Ray
Gallegos (13.0 ppg) is active from 3-point range (63-of-207), while Brandon
Ubel mans the trenches with 11.6 ppg and 6.9 rpg.
The Cornhuskers have been solid on their home floor (9-6), but they haven't
put up strong efforts against the Big Ten's elite, losing home bouts to Ohio
State, Illinois and Wisconsin. Michigan State is on a roll, and not much is
expected to change here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan State 65, Nebraska 54
02/16 12:00:54 ET