Nebraska Holds On Down The Stretch To Earn Much-Needed Big Ten Win Over Michigan State
The battle between Shavon Shields and Branden Dawson had a big impact on the outcome, and Shields was able to lead the Cornhuskers to victory on Saturday afternoon. (Source: Bruce Thorson - USA Today Sports)

Both the Michigan State Spartans and the Nebraska Cornhuskers entered Saturday afternoon looking to gain some more momentum as the season progresses through Big Ten play. Saturday marked the only time the teams would meet up in the regular season, so a win would go a long way for both teams.

The first half was all Nebraska, but Michigan State wouldn’t go down without a fight. Travis Trice scored 23 of his 27 points in the second half to bring the Spartans back in the game, but it wasn’t enough.

When it was all said and done, Terran Petteway and the Nebraska Cornhuskers came away with a hard-fought 79 – 77 win inside the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday afternoon.

In the opening minutes, Michigan State took an early 5 – 4 lead. It was early in the game, but that would be the last time that the Spartans would hold any kind of lead in the contest.

From there on out, it was all Nebraska.

Nebraska would slowly build their lead as the first half progressed along, using strong defense to keep the Spartans’ offense at bay. Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields led the way for the Cornhuskers, who stretched the lead to 10 points, 28 – 18, with less than five minutes to play in the opening half.

Leslie Smith would make a lay-up for the Huskers, stretching the lead to 15 points with 3:24 left in the opening half. The Spartans would keep chipping away, but Nebraska would always find an answer of their own. Terran Petteway would make a jumper of his own in the dying seconds of the half to give Nebraska a 14-point lead at the break.

After the first 20 minutes, Nebraska was finally playing like the team they were expected to be this season, taking a 39 – 25 lead into the break.

The second half opened up the same way that the first half ended, with Nebraska always having an answer on the offensive end when it looked like Michigan State was going to make a run and get back into the game.

The Spartans would trim the lead to single digits with just over 14 minutes to play, thanks to a three pointer from Travis Trice. The green and white would keep chipping away, but couldn’t cut the deficit any lower than six points.

Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields would each make jumpers, and the lead was back up to 10 for the Cornhuskers with under 10 minutes to play in the game. A couple minutes later, Petteway would make a three-pointer to stretch the lead to 15, and it looked like the game was over.

However, the Spartans kept fighting, and the game was far from over.

Nebraska led by 14 points with 3:56 left to play in the game, then Denzel Valentine would score five straight points for the Spartans to trim the deficit to 9. Travis Trice would also make his presence felt, adding in a lay-up of his own to trim the lead to just 6 points with just over 1 minute to play.

Down the stretch, Nebraska used clutch free throw shooting, and withstood a ferocious push from the Spartans to hang on for a much-needed conference victory.

It took some work, but the Nebraska Cornhuskers would come away with the 79 – 77 win over the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday afternoon inside the Pinnacle Bank Arena.

On the Michigan State sideline, Travis Trice led all Spartan scorers with 27 points, 23 of which came in the second half. Denzel Valentine chipped in with 21 points of his own, while Branden Dawson added 8 points and a monstrous 18 rebounds in a losing effort.

The Spartans out-rebounded the Cornhuskers 45 – 26 on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to lead the green and white to victory.

On the Nebraska side of the ball, Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Terran Petteway led the way, scoring a game-high 32 points in the victory. Shavon Shields also added in 21 points and 7 rebounds to help lead his team to victory.

For the Michigan State Spartans (13 – 7, 4 – 3), the close loss is another heart-breaking defeat for the Spartans this season. While they are still 4 – 3 on the year in conference play, and should still be in the thick of things in the conference race at the end of the year, the Spartans don’t look like the same style of team as they have in past years. They are getting back to their old ways of bullying teams on the glass and distributing the ball, which will go a long way for the program this season. Up next is another tough road contest, as the Spartans take on Rutgers on Tuesday.

The win on Saturday was a much-needed victory for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (12 – 7, 4 – 3), who were in search of some much-needed momentum in conference play. After a slow start to conference play, a win over the Spartans may just be what they need to turn things around and contend once again in the conference. Up next for Nebraska is a road date with the Michigan Wolverines.