Nebraska basketball was blown out on the road by Michigan State and here are three takeaways for the Huskers.
If Nebraska basketball is going to find a way to make a postseason tournament, whether it’s the NIT or the NCAA tournament, it’s going to have to find a way to win on the road in the Big Ten.
The Huskers have shown they can beat good teams away from Pinnacle Bank Arena but things didn’t go well on Tuesday night as the Spartans rolled to a 74-56 win at the Breslin Center. Michigan State improved to 10-4, while Nebraska basketball dropped to 8-7 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten.
Things were competitive early. It was 7-6 MSU after the first TV timeout and after a Sam Griesel bucket with 11:37 left in the first half, Michigan State led just 16-13. However, the Spartans closed the half on a 21-4 run and the game was over at that point.
Here are three takeaways.
Poor shooting doomed Nebraska
This was one of those nights when it didn’t seem like the team could hit the broadside of a barn as the saying goes. Derrick Walker scored 15 points and was 7-of-13 from the field but made 1-of-8 free throw attempts.
As a team, the Huskers shot 42 percent but that number was below 30 in the first half and they made just 13 percent of their 3-pointers (2). Michigan State scored 24 points from the 3-point line and Nebraska had six. They also made just 40 percent of their free throws (8-of-20).
Nebraska played right into the hands of MSU
Michigan State wants to get out in transition and shoot 3-pointers and the Huskers played right into their hands by allowing them to grab 29 defensive rebounds. MSU finished with eight triples and only forced 10 turnovers but dominated on the boards and used that to their advantage on the offensive end.
The Spartans assisted on 24 of 31 baskets, which tells you how well they moved the ball and part of it was being able to keep the Nebraska defense off balance by running in transition. Nebraska needed to win the rebound battle and grabbed just seven offensive boards compared to 11 for MSU, which had 40 total compared to 27 rebounds for Nebraska.
One thing that’s not complicated: If you lose the 3-point battle by 18 points and are out-rebounded by 13, you aren’t going to win a game at Michigan State against Tom Izzo.
The Huskers are better than that and they needed to be to have a chance on Tuesday.
Nebraska basketball has a lot to prove
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the schedule is brutal. Nebraska is going to need to finish at least 9-11 to finish over .500 which is required for the NIT and other postseason tournaments. I know Nebraska fans want the team to push for an NCAA tournament berth, but that’s a long way away.
Nebraska would probably need to win 20 games total which would mean 12 regular-season Big Ten wins and at least one in the tournament. That would probably be enough but it’s much easier said than done (there isn’t a single guaranteed win left on the schedule).
Nebraska is going to have to win a couple of games on the road and from here on out, it has to win basically every home game. There are eight home games and eight road games. I’d say Nebraska will need to go 11-5 against that schedule to make the big dance and that seems like a really tall order for this team.
Tuesday was a wake-up call and another reminder that if you don’t show up in the Big Ten, you will get run out of the gym.
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