The now No. 5 Michigan State Spartans clobbered the undermanned Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday 62-34. Michigan State’s defense continues to dominate the opposition. The 34 points allowed is the fewest since Michigan State played Brown University when it opened up the 2006-2007 season. It was the least amount of points allowed in Big Ten play for the Spartans since the 1999-2000 championship season against when MSU played Northwestern. Finally for Nebraska, it was the lowest scoring effort since the shot clock was invented.
Senior forward Draymond Green joined an elite group of Spartans when he grabbed his 1,000 rebound of his career. Green joins Antonio Smith, Johnny Green, and Greg Kelser in the 1,000 rebound club, and has let Kelser know he is coming after his record of 1,092 rebounds.
The win over Nebraska improved Michigan State to 13-3 in Big Ten play. Coupled with the losses of Michigan against Purdue, and Ohio State against Wisconsin, the Spartans have clinched a share of the Big Ten title. Claiming at least a share this year makes it three out of the past four years for the Spartans in winning a Big Ten title in basketball. The only year the Spartans didn’t win it was last year, and the football team made up for that by winning a Big Ten title of their own.
If Michigan State can win one of their final two games at Indiana, or against Ohio State, they will claim the title all to themselves. The final two games however, are no easy task, with both teams looking to revenge early season losses to the Spartans.
Against Nebraska, Green was able to collect yet another double-double finishing the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Green leads the Big Ten in double-doubles and in rebounds. Green also shot 50% from beyond the arc connecting on 3/6.
Transfer Brandon Wood continued his recent trend of scoring off the bench. The senior scored seven points to help boost the Spartans during dry spells, and also collected four rebounds. The highlight of the night however belonged to center Derrick Nix. Nix who weighs between 260 and 275, stole the ball and had a one man fast break all to himself. The Detroit native slammed the ball with such force that it would of broken backboards in the ’80s and ’90s. Nix finished with five points, two steals, and a career high 5 assists.
Senior Austin Thornton finished second on the team in scoring with nine points. Thornton connected on 3/4 three pointers. It was good to see redshirt freshman Russell Byrd get some action in. After struggling with foot injuries most of his career at MSU the Indiana native and three point specialist scored six points from two three-pointers. Byrd could eventually fill some of Thornton’s minutes next year.
It’s been a tremendous year for the Spartans as they trying to lock down a number one seed, and Big Ten title again. The last two times the Spartans won Big Ten titles, MSU made it to the Final Four. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the Spartans made it again this year with the way head coach Tom Izzo has this team playing.