What once looked like a solid road victory for Michigan State turned into an epic meltdown on Saturday afternoon.
The Spartans will look to bounce back from that stunning 112-106 overtime loss to Iowa when they face Nebraska on Tuesday in Lincoln, Neb.
The Hawkeyes trailed by 11 points with one minute remaining and scored 17 points in the last 55 seconds of regulation.
“There’s no question Saturday is one of the biggest losses and toughest losses in my years here,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “None of us did a good job, and we found a way to lose the game.”
Michigan State (17-11, 9-8 Big Ten) had its best offensive output of the season. It made 59.3 percent of its field-goal attempts, went 11-for-15 on 3-point tries and knocked down 86.1 percent of its free-throw attempts.
“It was a crazy game. We were stunned,” Spartans guard Jaden Akins said. “But we gotta know that we got more games after this, so we got to turn around fast.”
The Spartans’ perimeter defense fell apart at the worst time. Iowa drained five 3-pointers in the last 39 seconds.
“We’re the leading 3-point defending team in the conference and one of the better ones in the country,” Izzo said. “Give (Iowa) credit, they hit some. But give us blame, we didn’t stay disciplined.”
Nebraska (15-14, 8-10) has won four straight, including a 78-67 victory over Minnesota on Saturday. Sam Griesel led six players in double figures with 19 points for the Cornhuskers, who notched their first four-game winning streak in conference play since the 2017-18 season.
Griesel said balanced scoring has been a key to the team’s turnaround.
“I think that makes teams really tough to guard,” Griesel said. “On teams that I have been on in my years of college basketball, to have a team like that where anyone can go 15 or 20 a night, that is when you have something special. Obviously we have had several guys step up in the last few games and I think that is a big part of our success and hopefully we will be moving forward as well.”
Tyson Walker scored 21 points when the Spartans recorded a 74-56 win over the Cornhuskers on Jan. 3 in East Lansing, Mich.
–Field Level Media