Nebraska men’s basketball (6-3 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) was overmatched from the beginning against third-ranked Michigan State (7-1, 1-0) as the Huskers dropped their conference opener, 86-57.
James Palmer Jr. led Nebraska with 15 points, but he was the only Husker with more than 10 points in the contest. The Huskers shot just 27.4 percent from the field. Nick Ward led all scorers with 22 points.
“This is an excellent team,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said after the loss, “the best team I have seen in my six years of being in the league, and that includes the team that went to the Final Four. They have better depth and I think their defense is better.”
Michigan State wing Jaren Jackson Jr. got the scoring started with a dunk, and a jumper by Miles Bridges gave the Spartans a quick 4-0 lead. Nebraska bounced back and tied the game at five thanks to a 3-pointer by Glynn Watson Jr. That was the closest the Huskers would get in this game.
Michigan State responded quickly with an 11-2 run that broke the game open. The Huskers tried to stay in the game, with a three from Anton Gill pulling them within six, but the Spartans responded with a 15-4 run. A 3-pointer from Isaiah Roby before the buzzer sent Nebraska into halftime down 38-26.
The Spartans did most of their first-half damage in the paint, scoring 16 points and out-rebounding the Huskers 25-12. Foul trouble also plagued Nebraska, as five Huskers picked up two or more fouls in the half.
In the second half, the margin hovered around 17 points for the first five minutes, but Michigan State continued to grow its lead as the half went on. The closest Nebraska would get was within 16 points.
One bright spot for Nebraska was its three-point shooting, where the team shot 10-for-22 from behind the arc. The Huskers also only turned the ball over five times in the contest.
In the paint, Michigan State outscored Nebraska 32-8. The Spartans also out-rebounded the Huskers 48-34. Four Spartans finished with more 10 or more points.
The game served as the Big Ten opener for both teams. The Big Ten Conference schedule started earlier than usual, thanks to the conference tournament being moved one week earlier than before. Because of the schedule change, each team will play two conference games during the first week of December.
Nebraska will return to action on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. night against No. 12 Minnesota at Pinnacle Bank Arena.