The Nebraska Cornhuskers were giving the Michigan State Spartans a run for their money early on, but the Spartans held one key advantage that allowed them to pull away. Michigan State’s complete dominance of the interior was the major factor in the Spartans’ 73-64 win over Nebraska.
Michigan State’s superior play on the interior starts on the glass where two Spartans ended with double figures in rebounds. The Spartans outrebounded the Cornhuskers 41-23 led by 14 boards from Adreian Payne and 11 from Derrick Nix. In fact, the Cornhuskers only production on the glass came from Shavon Shields, who had 13 rebounds all by himself, three more than his teammates combined.
The Cornhuskers also struggled to score inside. The Spartans had 12 blocks in the game with seven from Nix and Payne combined. Nebraska only got seven points from forward Brandon Ubel and the rest of its points came from the guard position. In total, Michigan State outscored Nebraska 30-16 in the paint.
It is tough for a team like Nebraska to beat a top-10 team without putting up some competition in the interior. Michigan State thrives when it can utilize its size inside and the Cornhuskers were unable to match that.
Nebraska simply had no answer for Nix or Payne and although Shields was arguably its best player Saturday, one player cannot beat an entire team. The Cornhuskers needed a bigger game from Ubel, who entered the contest averaging 11.6 points per game and seven rebounds per contest. His seven points and four rebounds was not enough for Nebraska to overcome Michigan State’s size. The Spartans have three players averaging more than six rebounds per game and they should their dominance on the glass against the Cornhuskers.