EAST LANSING, Mich. — In its first game without injured senior guard Eron Harris, Michigan State (17-11, 9-6 Big Ten) didn’t miss a step, taking down Nebraska 88-72 at home on Thursday night.
Freshmen Miles Bridges and Nick Ward both finished with 20 points, while Josh Langford added 17, the most of his young career. Cassius Winston provided a highlight-reel halfcourt shot at the end of the first period.
Why it happened
Winston commanded the offense, taking outlet passes and quickly looking downcourt to sprinting teammates. He finished with seven points, eight assists, no turnovers and a slick pass off the glass to Bridges.
What it means
Michigan State moves into fourth place in the Big Ten, holding the same 9-6 conference record as Minnesota and Northwestern. The Spartans hold the tiebreaker over both teams, which would give them a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament if the regular season ended with this game. Nebraska fell to 12-15, 6-9.
Take your pick. Nearly everyone played well for the Spartans, but especially the frontcourt. Bridges dominated with 20 points and five rebounds, while Ward posted 20 and nine. Those two freshmen and senior Kenny Goins all served as safety nets for the guards, blocking five shots in total.
As Langford got more aggressive, Matt McQuaid saw his minutes and shots dwindle. With fewer weapons around him to create than his freshman season, he has struggled mightily to get into a rhythm. He finished with 2 points on 1-for-3 shooting.
Who was there
Former Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci, a close friend of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, sat in the first row behind the Spartans bench. Across the court, one of Michigan State’s most consistent visiting recruits, Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian junior guard Duane Washington Jr. made yet another appearance. His teammate, Spartans signee Xavier Tillman, did not.
Who is next
Michigan State returns to the Breslin Center on Sunday for Senior Day and its final home game of the season. No. 16 Wisconsin is the opponent. The game tips off at 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on CBS.
88-72 is your final. pic.twitter.com/DOs3OBfX3d
— Luke Srodulski (@lsrodulski) February 24, 2017