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Defensive-minded Nebraska takes on Michigan State

Dec 29, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers forward Juwan Gary (4) celebrates a basket with guard Emmanuel Bandoumel (25) in the second half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

A good start to 2023 is at the top of the New Year’s resolution list for Nebraska and Michigan State when the teams meet in a Big Ten game on Tuesday night in East Lansing, Mich.

Nebraska (8-6, 1-2 Big Ten) enters the game off an impressive 66-50 home win over Iowa, tied for the fewest points it had allowed in conference play since 2015. The Cornhuskers are holding Big Ten foes to 38.7 percent shooting.

“For our guys to go out there and win it on (the defensive) end is what it is about for our team right now,” said Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team is also limiting opponents to 11.6 free-throw attempts per game.

Michigan State (9-4, 1-1) attempted a season-high 30 foul shots in its last game, an 89-68 home win over Buffalo. It was the fourth straight victory for the Spartans, who appear to be hitting their stride after a 5-4 start that included six games against power-conference teams plus then-No. 2 Gonzaga.

The Buffalo win saw the return of forward Malik Hall, who had missed eight games with a foot injury and scored 11 points in 12 minutes off the bench.

“It was nice to be able to play with my guys,” Hall said. “I think it was good in general to be able to realize I can still play a little bit. It wasn’t too bad. I’m just excited.”

Hall’s return gives Michigan State a fourth double-figures scorer, one more than Nebraska. Both teams balance out their scoring, with the Spartans having seven different players score at least five points per game and six for the Cornhuskers.

Joey Hauser (14.1 points per game) paces Michigan State, while Derrick Walker (13.6) leads Nebraska.

Michigan State has won nine in a row over Nebraska, including a 12-point home victory last season. The Cornhuskers’ last win in the series came in 2016. The Spartans are 5-1 at home this season but dropped its Big Ten opener to Northwestern on their home court on Dec. 4; they haven’t lost consecutive conference home games since February 2020.

–Field Level Media