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 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 losing effort.
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, but Gary Harris' 3-pointer gave Michigan State (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten) a four-point lead at 58-54. Harris was 0-of-10 from the field before his long 3-pointer sparked the strong surge.
Derrick Nix made two free throws with a minute left and finished with 17 points to help No. 22 Michigan State pull away for a 66-56 victory over Nebraska on Sunday night.
The Spartans (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten) have won three straight and kept the Cornhuskers (9-8, 0-4) from winning their first conference game this season.
Nebraska's David Rivers had 18 points, Dylan Talley scored 17 and Ray Gallegos added 12 points.
Spartans reserve Adreian Payne scored 14 points and Branden Dawson had 12 points.
Michigan State - and Dawson in particular - got a scare early in the second half when he was fouled and grabbed his surgically repaired left knee after tumbling to the court. Dawson later walked slowly off the court toward the locker room and was cleared to return much to the delight of the fans, who gave him a standing ovation. The sophomore standout showed his knee was very healthy in the final seconds, soaring to slam an alley-oop pass from Keith Appling for the final basket.
Michigan State didn't have much else to cheer about until late in a closely contested game.
Nix broke a 50-all tie with a layup with 6:17 left and Appling later connected on three free throws to give the Spartans a five-point lead, matching their largest to that time. After Nebraska pulled within a point, freshman Gary Harris responded with a 3-pointer that put Michigan State ahead 58-54 with 1:49 remaining during a 14-4 run.
The Huskers were without Brandon Ubel, who missed the game with an elbow injury. The 6-foot-10 senior is Nebraska's leading rebounder and third-leading scorer.