The Huskers head to No. 9 Michigan State on Sunday.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Look to Topple No. 9 Michigan St.

By NU Athletic Communications

Game #24 at Michigan State
Game Date Feb. 16, 2014
Tipoff Time 2:10 p.m. (CT)
Venue Breslin Center
Capacity 14,797

Nebraska Cornhuskers
2013-14 Record: 13-10, 5-6 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 28-28 (2nd year)
Career Record: 311-248 (19th year)

Michigan State Spartans
2013-14 Record: 21-4, 10-2 Big Ten
Head Coach: Tom Izzo
Record at Michigan St.: 460-182 (19th year)
Career Record: Same

Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: BTN
(Ch. 610 on DirecTV; Chs. 439, 9500 on DISH; Chs. 24 and 333-SD, 1333-HD on Time Warner Cable; Chs. 80 SD, 1080-HD on Cox Cable)
Play by Play: Eric Collins
Expert Analysis: Stephen Bardo

Radio: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, including KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln, KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington.
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Expert Analysis: Matt Davison

Internet Radio/Stats: Free on

Satellite Radio (MSU feed): Sirius Ch. 91, XM Ch. 91

Huskers Look to Topple No. 9 Michigan St.
The Nebraska basketball team looks to continue its late-season surge this weekend, as the Huskers travel to East Lansing for a matchup with ninth-ranked Michigan State Sunday afternoon. 

Tipoff is set for 2:10 p.m. (CT) at the Breslin Center and the game will be carried nationally on BTN (Ch. 610 on DirecTV, Chs. 439 and 9500 on Dish; Chs. 2, 1333 on Time Warner Cable) with Eric Collins and Stephen Bardo on the call. The game will also be available online and on mobile devices on BTN2Go.

Sunday’s game will also be carried across the state on the 27-station Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison calling all of the action, including flagship stations KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln and KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha (complete list of affiliates is on page five of the game notes). The game can also be heard on and is available on the Huskers’ app on iOS or android devices, as well as Sirius and XM Radio.

The Huskers (13-10, 5-6 B1G) have overcome an 0-4 start in conference play to win five of their last seven games, moving into sole possession of sixth place in the Big Ten standings. Nebraska has won four of its last five games with the only setback coming at the hands of then No. 10 Michigan on Feb. 5. The Huskers could even its Big Ten record for the first time since joining the conference with a win on Sunday afternoon.

Sophomore forward Shavon Shields enjoyed a career night in lifting Nebraska to a 67-58 victory over Illinois on Wednesday. Shields hit 8-of-12 shots from the field and all 15 free throw attempts to put together the first 30-point game of his career. It was the second-highest performance in conference action this year, trailing only Terran Petteway’s 35-point effort against Minnesota on Jan. 26. Shields became only the 11th player in Big Ten history to hit at least 15 free throws without a miss.

While Shields carried the offensive load, a pair of Huskers were the unsung heroes off the bench. David Rivers matched a career high with seven rebounds in 28 minutes, while Benny Parker had four points and matched his career high with four steals in 24 minutes.

No. 9 Michigan State (21-4, 10-2 Big Ten) has overcome a myriad of injuries to put itself in position for its eighth Big Ten regular-season title under Tom Izzo. The Spartans are tied with Michigan following an 85-70 win over Northwestern on Thursday. Adreian Payne had 20 points and 14 rebounds against the Wildcats and is one of four Spartans averaging double figures.

By the Numbers

.846 - Nebraska’s winning percentage in games decided by five points or less under Tim Miles. The Huskers are 11-2 in such games over the last two seasons following the win at Northwestern on Feb. 8.

3 - The 2013-14 season marked the third time in school history that Nebraska had multiple people have 30-point games in the same season.

Year Player, Opponent, Date
1989-90 Eric Johnson vs. Michigan State, 11/30/09
Rich King vs. Harvard, 12/1/89
1995-96 Tyronn Lue vs. Oregon, 11/25/95
Jaron Boone vs. Oregon, 11/25/95
2013-14 Terran Petteway vs. Minnesota, 1/26/14
Shavon Shields vs. Illinois, 2/12/14

4 - Nebraska has won four straight conference home games for the first time since a five-game Big 12 home win streak spanning the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.

Scouting Michigan State
Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans have been one of the flagship programs in the Big Ten. The Spartans have made six Final Fours in the last 15 seasons and made 16 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. MSU returned four starters from a team that won 27 games and reached the Sweet 16 last year. The Spartans were the overwhelming preseason choice to win the Big Ten, but have battled injuries during the course of the season.

Despite having to use 14 lineups during the season, MSU has continued to roll along. The Spartans won 11 straight until falling to Michigan on Jan. 25, while their only other Big Ten loss came on a buzzer beater at Wisconsin on Feb. 9. Both of those losses came when MSU was missing two starters. Currently, senior point Keith Appling and Branden Dawson are both out but could return in the next two weeks. Sunday’s matchup is the only one of the season between the two teams, as the Spartans are one of Nebraska’s four single-play foes in 2013-14.

The Spartans are second in the Big Ten in scoring offense, totaling 78 points per game. MSU is among the league leaders in both field goal percentage (.471, third) and 3-point percentage (.387, 2nd). Michigan State is also strong on the defensive end, ranking second in the Big Ten in field goal defense (.389) as well as steals (7.6 per game).

Sophomore Gary Harris is one of the favorites for Big Ten player of the year, as he averages 17.4 points per game, 4.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. MSU also features one of the nation’s top big men in Adreian Payne, who averages 16.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and is averaging close to 20 points per game since his return to the lineup three games ago.

NU-Michigan State Series History
Michigan State leads the all-time series, 12-6, that dates back to February of 1920, and has won all four meetings since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011-12. Sunday’s matchup will be the ninth straight time Nebraska has taken on a ranked MSU team dating back to November of 1990.

•-Nebraska is 3-6 against ranked Spartan teams, including a pair of wins over MSU teams ranked in the top 10. The Huskers posted a 71-69 win over the No. 5 Spartans on Nov. 28, 1990, at the Devaney Center. On Dec. 18, 1993, Nebraska topped No. 6 MSU, 85-81 in East Lansing.

•-Nebraska is just 1-6 all-time in East Lansing with the lone victory coming in an 85-81 triumph on Dec. 18, 1993.

•-Nebraska won the first two meetings on consecutive days, posting a 43-26 win on Feb. 13, 1920, and a 39-20 win the following day.

•-The teams played six times between 1988 and 1994, splitting the six contests. Nebraska’s three wins in the span came by a total of 11 points.

•-Nebraska’s last win in the series was on Dec. 10, 1994, as the Huskers posted a 96-91 overtime win over the No. 15 Spartans. Nebraska rallied from a five-point deficit in the final 46 seconds of regulation to force overtime, as Tom Wald hit three free throws with one second left. Nebraska took control in overtime, scoring the first seven points and never trailed. Jaron Boone’s 23 points led five Huskers in double figures, while Shawn Respert had 37 points in a losing effort for Michigan State.

Last meeting: Despite strong performances from Shavon Shields and Dylan Talley, the Huskers fell to eighth-ranked Michigan State, 73-64, at the Devaney Center one year ago Sunday. Shields posted his first career double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds, while Talley scored a game-high 28 points, but Michigan State’s balance was too much. Four Spartans reached double figures, including double-doubles by both Adreian Payne (15 points, 14 rebounds) and Derrick Nix (13 points, 11 rebounds). MSU held Nebraska to just 35.5 percent shooting and out-rebounded Nebraska, 42-24. Keith Appling led MSU with 13 points and four assists while Gary Harris added 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Payne keyed the decisive second-half run to break open a one-point game. Nebraska trailed 29-24 at the break, but rallied behind Shields, who scored 12 of the Huskers first 16 second-half points to cut the lead to 41-40 with 14:17 left. Payne, who had just two points in the first half, scored six of his 15 points in a 16-4 Spartan run to give the Spartans some breathing room.

Last Meeting in East Lansing: David Rivers led Nebraska with 18 points in his first career start, but No. 22 Michigan State closed the game on an 11-2 run, as the Spartans held on for a 66-56 victory. Rivers had 18 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting from the field, and added six rebounds to lead three Huskers in double figures. Derrick Nix led MSU with 17 points, while Adreian Payne and Brenden Dawson added 14 and 12 points, respectively. Nix and Payne combined to go 12-of-15 from the floor, including a perfect 6-of-6 night for Payne off the bench. The Huskers were within 55-54 with 2:36 left after a Ray Gallegos basket. NU had a chance to take the lead on the next possession after Benny Parker’s steal, but Talley missed the mid-range jumper and Gary Harris came down on the next possession and drained a 3-pointer from the wing with 1:49 remaining giving Michigan State a 58-54 lead. Harris was 0-of-10 from the field before his 3-pointer sparked MSU to a strong finish. 

Last Time Out
Shavon Shields scored a career-high 33 points, making all 15 of his free throws for Nebraska’s best performance at the line in 32 years, and the Cornhuskers defeated Illinois 67-58 on Wednesday night.

The Huskers (13-10, 5-6 Big Ten) pulled away with the help of a defense that held Illinois to two field goals over the last 6:57. Terran Petteway added 16 points as the Huskers raised their record to 11-1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Shields bettered his previous high of 29 points against Penn State last season. He made 8 of 12 shots from the field, and his 15-for-15 night at the line was the best for Nebraska since Jack Moore made all 15 of his against Oklahoma State in 1982. The Huskers were 24 of 27 from the line, 14 of 17 in the second half.

Rayvonte Rice scored 23 points to lead the Illini, which shot 37 percent and has lost nine of its last 10. Nnanna Egwu had 12 rebounds for Illinois, which is in the middle of a stretch of playing on the road in three of four games.

Story Lines
•-The Huskers will be looking for their sixth conference win of the season, which would exceed last year’s total with six games remaining this season.

•-Nebraska is looking for its first win over Michigan State since joining the Big Ten. The Spartans have won all four meetings between the two teams over the last two seasons. MSU is also one of only three teams the Huskers have not beaten since joining the league (also Wisconsin and Michigan).

•-A win on Sunday would put the Huskers at the .500 league mark for the first time during its tenure in the Big Ten, and for the first time in conference play since Feb. 19, 2011, when the Huskers were 6-6 in the Big 12 following a win over No. 3 Texas.

•-Nebraska is bidding for its fifth Big Ten win in the last six games, which would be a first for the program since the 1998-99 season when Nebraska went 9-1 in a stretch during Big 12 action.

•-Nebraska looks for its third straight conference win, the first time that has happened at Nebraska since a three-game win streak during the 2010-11 season (Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma, No. 3 Texas).

•- Nebraska looks to snap a 21-game losing streak against ranked teams on the road. The Huskers’ last road win against a ranked team was a 65-59 win at No. 22 Texas A&M on Feb. 23, 2008. In all, NU has lost its last 24 games away from home against ranked teams since the win over the Aggies.

•-The Huskers have lost 10 straight games against top-10 teams dating back to a 70-67 win over third-ranked Texas on Feb. 19, 2011.

•- NU will bid for its first conference road streak since the 2008-09 season when Nebraska won at Texas Tech and at Colorado.

•- Sophomore Terran Petteway needs 11 points to reach 500 for his career, which includes his season at Texas Tech. He also is quickly climbing Nebraska’s sophomore scoring list. He needs 13 points to tie Eric Piatkowski for sixth on NU’s sophomore list.

•- Ray Gallegos can move into seventh on NU’s career 3-point list with his first 3-pointer at Michigan State on Sunday. He is tied for eighth with 145 3-points and is one shy of seventh (Cookie Belcher, 146) on NU’s all-time list. Gallegos is also closing in on a couple of other milestones, as he is three assists away from 100 in his career and 17 points from reaching 750 points. He would be the 56th player in school history to reach 750 career points.

•- Nebraska has held three of its last four opponents to under 60 points, including 58 to Illinois. The Huskers held Northwestern and Illinois to a combined 37 percent shooting.

•- Tai Webster enters Sunday’s game needing three steals to crack into the top-10 list for steals by a Husker freshman. Webster has 22 on the season, two behind Leslee Smith for the team lead. Cookie Miller is the last Husker freshman to lead NU in steals during the 2007-08 season.

•- Freshman Nathan Hawkins became the ninth Husker to reach double figures in a game this season with his 11 points at Michigan on Feb. 5.

Quick Look at Nebraska
As second-year coach Tim Miles continues the rebuilding process at Nebraska, the Huskers’ roster is starting to take shape. Only two of the 12 recruited scholarship players have been at NU longer than two seasons (Ray Gallegos and David Rivers). Gallegos is the only scholarship senior on the 2013-14 roster before Mike Peltz was put on scholarship in January.

•- Nebraska enters the game at No. 65 in the RPI and a schedule rated as the 25th toughest nationally according to real time RPI.
•- Of Nebraska’s 10 losses, six are to teams ranked in either the AP or coaches poll this week (Iowa, Cincinnati, Michigan-2x, Ohio State and Creighton) and another is to a UMass team is receiving votes after being ranked for most of the season.
•- The Huskers started Big Ten play with a 1-5 record with four of their first six on the road, but had chances to win in the final minutes of three of those losses.
• vs. Michigan (Jan. 9) - Led 70-69 with 0:34 left (lost 71-70)
• at Purdue (Jan. 12) - Led 58-55 with 6:43 left (lost 70-64)
• at Penn State (Jan. 26) - Led 51-47 with 2:24 left (Lost 58-54)

•-Nebraska has already won as many games in Big Ten play as in 2012-13, and is two wins away from matching last year's win total.

•- Nebraska has relied on its youth, as its top three active scorers (Petteway, Shields and Pitchford are sophomores and of the nine players who played at least 10 minutes per game, only one is a senior. In fact, 59.5 percent of the Huskers’ scoring have come from NU’s sophomore class.

•- During Big Ten action, the Huskers have typically started one freshman (Tai Webster), three sophomores (Petteway, Shields and Pitchford) and one senior (Gallegos). The only time NU has not used that lineup was at Ohio State when Walter Pitchford battled flu-like symptoms.

•- Miles is not afraid to play freshmen, as at least one freshman has started in 54 of the 56 games he has coached at Nebraska over the last two seasons.
This season, Nebraska is picked 12th in the preseason poll of writers with a roster which is 293rd (of 351 teams) in experience according to Five of NU’s nine primary rotation players are in their first year of competition at Nebraska, although three of the newcomers (Pitchford-Florida; Smith-SMU; Petteway-Texas Tech) have previous Division I experience.

Miles, who was given a seven-year contract when he was hired in 2012, led the Huskers to a 15-18 record last year, as 14 of NU’s 18 losses came against NCAA Tournament teams despite having only eight recruited scholarship players available. Nebraska played one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2012-13, facing 10 ranked teams while the strength of schedule was 13th nationally. The Huskers finished 10th in the Big Ten in 2012-13 after being picked to finish last by 23 of the 24 beat writers in the league.


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