A different team faced the Spartans tonight, but it was the same result. The #6 Michigan State Spartans improved their record on the year to 16-2 (7-0) with a 70-64 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. It was the Spartans 19th straight Big Ten regular season conference win. Setting the school record.
Kyle Ahrens had taken the place of G Joshua Langford (5th straight game missed) when he went down with an injured right foot/ankle/leg. Today Ahrens was out again (2nd straight game) and true freshman Aaron Henry took his spot, but the result, as previously mentioned, was the same.
The Spartans were led by Cassius Winston who had a career-high 29 points. Winston became just the 51st player in Spartan history to score over 1000 career points. With his 29 tonight he is at 1006. Nick Ward added 15 points and 10 rebounds and was the only other Spartan in double digits.
Tom Izzo said, “I really like his (Nebraska Coach Tim Miles) He’s done a helluva job here. The crowd was unbelievable. Our freshman, I mean we made some mistakes in the first half. We didn’t do the things that we needed to do. It was partly because of personnel. We got in foul trouble.”
Tom Izzo added Cassius Winston record-setting performance, “Did it on offense, he did it on defense he did it every way that he could do. He probably coached the team better than I did.”
Husker head coach Tim Miles said of the game, “I thought Thomas Allen did a pretty good job on (Cassius) Winston the second half. The choices you make are going to get you. I just thought we had to help to (Isaiah) Roby to keep him in the game and even Tanner (Borchardt) or Brady (Heiman) or whoever. (Isaiah) Roby's second foul after that you know it was tied or we might've even been ahead and then they go up five (at halftime). That was critical because we had both centers in foul trouble, and then we kind of let first half get away from us. Then we battled back and take the lead again (early in the second half). You need to build and play from the front with these teams. You have to credit Michigan State. They're a very strong, athletic team that defends. There's a reason they're one of the top teams in the country defensively. This is their sixth true road win and they're primed for this moment. It's not like they're an upstart. And coach (Tom) Izzo is as good as there is in the game of basketball. College or pro. And they did a good job, they did a really good job. And I think you have to credit them. They made the plays. We turned them over a little bit, but not enough and we didn't finish in transition and at the rim.”
Spartan guard Cassius Winston said of his stellar game today, “It was huge. Against a really really good team. They were probably the favorites to win tonight. And their crowd. They had an amazing crowd and we fought it out. It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t go the way we wanted to go but we just made plays to win the game and that is going to be huge going down the stretch.”
The Spartans shot 44% from the field including 30% from the three. The Spartans shot a stellar 89% from the free throw line and had 13 assists on 24 baskets.
The Spartans led the battle of the boards 42-38. Disappointingly, the Spartans had 15 turnovers.
Izzo played 10 players including four of the five freshmen. Aaron Henry the true freshman guard played 19 minutes and had nine points in his second career and straight start.
Tom Izzo was asked about Big Ten road wins at Nebraska and Ohio State without his All American guard and captain Joshua Langford. Izzo made it clear that they were forgetting someone else, “And Kyle Ahrens who is sitting home and has been play really really well. Well, our freshmen are getting a little better. We got a ways to go, but Nick and Cash, we are going to go like they go. Cash was so good tonight and I am just happy we got a win. This was a big win for us and I know you are laughing at me, but I really like their team and this place.”
Winston added about picking up his scoring with Langford out, “My job on this team is to make plays. Whether it is scoring or it is assisting, that is my role for this team. With him out that is a big piece missing. I just do everything that I can to make plays. To get the guys some easy ones and hit the shot when I need to.”
The Spartans return to Big Ten action against Maryland on Monday at 6:30 at the Breslin Center. The game is on FS1.
Want the latest breaking MSU news delivered straight to your email for FREE? Sign up for the DAILY Spartan Nation newsletterWHEN YOU CLICK RIGHT HERE!Don’t miss any of the latest up to the second updates on Michigan State Sports when you follow on Twitter @HondoCarpenter