East Lansing, Mich. - David Rivers led Nebraska with 18 points in his first career start, but No. 22 Michigan State closed the game on a 11-2 run, as the Spartans held on for a 66-56 victory over Nebraska Sunday evening.
Rivers, the sophomore from Little Rock, Ark., had 18 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting from the field, and added six rebounds to lead three Huskers in double figures. Dylan Talley had 17 points and four assists while Ray Gallegos added 12 points and three steals in a game which saw 12 lead changes and seven ties.
Derrick Nix led MSU with 17 points, while Adreian Payne and Brenden Dawson added 14 and 12 points, respectively, as the Spartans shot 45 percent from the field and enjoyed a 36-31 advantage on the boards against the smaller Husker lineup. 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 (9-8, 0-4 Big Ten), who were without two of their top eight players because of injuries, 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 gave Michigan State (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten) a four-point lead at 58-54. Harris, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds, was 0-of-10 from the field before his 3-pointer sparked MSU to a strong finish. The Spartans went a perfect 6-of-6 from the line in the final 63 seconds to make the margin wider than it was in the first 39 minutes.
Nebraska put together one of its best efforts of the half, going to halftime deadlocked with the Spartans at 32-all. Rivers keyed the Huskers' strong opening half with 12 points and four rebounds while Shavon Shields added nine points in the opening 20 minutes, as NU committed just three turnovers and got six second-chance points, compared to only two for MSU. Shields had seven of the Huskers' first 10 points of the contest and finished with nine points, six rebounds and a pair of assists.
After falling behind 17-12, the Huskers used a 11-2 run to take its largest lead of the half at 23-19. A Shields jumper capped a run of six straight points and gave Nebraska an 18-17 lead before two straight Rivers baskets later gave the visitors a four-point lead and silenced the Breslin Center crowd.
Michigan State trailed 25-21 but regrouped with a run of seven straight points to take a 28-25 lead after a Keith Appling jumper. Nebraska would make one last run to close the half running off seven straight points, the last of which was a 3-pointer from David Rivers to make it a 32-28 lead, matching the Huskers largest advantage of the half.
The first seven minutes of the second half saw the teams exchange the lead. Michigan State went inside as Payne and Nix combined for MSU's first seven points of the half, while Nebraska countered with its jump shooting, taking a 40-39 lead after a Rivers jumper with 14:41 left. The Spartans finally made a run, as Travis Trice's 3-pointer started a 6-0 run for MSU, as the Spartans took a 45-40 lead after a Keith Appling free throw at the 11:06 mark.
Nebraska would answer right back, as two Rivers baskets highlighted a 5-0 spurt that pulled the teams even, as neither team led by more than three points until Appling hit a pair of free throws at the 4:13 mark to make it 55-50. Nebraska came right back, as Gallegos hit a jumper to cut the lead to three before his backdoor layup with 2:36 left made it a one-point game.
The Huskers, who played three of their first four Big Ten games on the road against ranked teams, return to the Bob Devaney Sports Center for the first time since Jan. 6 on Wednesday night, as the Huskers play host to Purdue. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. and tickets are available by calling 800-8-BIGRED or by visiting Huskers.com.
*-David Rivers made his first career start against Michigan State, as Nebraska used its third different lineup of the season. Rivers finished with 18 points, the second-highest output of his career. He went 8-for-8, one off Nebraska's single-game record for shots made without a miss.
*-Nebraska scored 56 points, its highest total in Big Ten play. NU's previous high was 47 at Michigan on Wednesday.
*-Dylan Talley finished with eight rebounds, matching his season high (also vs. Wake Forest) and 17 points.
*-Ray Gallegos reached double figures for the seventh straight game with 12 points and also tied a career high with three steals and two blocked shots. Gallegos has now played in every minute of Nebraska's four Big Ten games.
*-Jordan Tyrance set career highs in minutes (12), assists (two) and blocked shots (two).
*-Brandon Ubel missed only the second game of his career, snapping a streak of 94 straight appearances for the senior. Ubel had started Nebraska's last 47 games before suffering the injury against Michigan.
*-Nebraska has now held 16 of 17 opponents under their 50 percent shooting and has held 14 of 17 foes under their scoring average.
*-Nebraska is now 1-8 when shooting less than 40 percent from the field.