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February 16, 2013

Hoops Gameday: Nebraska vs. Michigan State

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Michigan State Spartans
Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 - 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Michigan State (21-4, 10-2 Big Ten)
Streak: Won 5
Last Game: Defeated Michigan 75-52
G Keith Appling (leads team with 14.0 points and 4.0 assists per game) Jr. 6-1 190
G Gary Harris (scoring 12.9 ppg, shooting 44% from 3-point range) Fr. 6-4 205
G Branden Dawson (averaging 10.8 ppg and 6.3 rebounds per game) So. 6-6 230
F Adreian Payne (leads team with 6.7 rebounds per game) Jr. 6-10 240
C Derrick Nix (averaging 9.4 points and 6.3 rebounds) Sr. 6-9 270

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (12-13, 3-9 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to Indiana 76-47
G Dylan Talley (had game-high 16 points against No. 1 Indiana) Sr. 6-5 216
G Ray Gallegos (snapped streak of 4 straight double-figure scoring games) Jr. 6-2 181
G/F Shavon Shields (averaging 9.2 ppg and 5.3 rpg in last 11 games) Fr. 6-6 215
F David Rivers (scored 18 points in first meeting with Michigan State) So. 6-7 191
F Brandon Ubel (missed first game at MSU with an elbow injury) Sr. 6-10 235

Match the physicality

Michigan State comes into tonight's showdown riding a five-game winning streak and playing as well as any team in the country. The biggest reason for the Spartans' recent surge has been a lineup adjustment made after some injuries to their backcourt, as guard Branden Dawson (6-6, 230), Adreian Payne (6-10, 240) and center Derrick Nix (6-9, 270) have all been on the court together much of the time. That size and physicality has paid off tremendously for MSU, which now ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (58.9 ppg) and is out-rebounding teams by nearly seven boards per game.
Stay out of foul trouble

Nebraska's game plan to slow down Indiana on Wednesday night pretty much went out the window after the first few minutes, as the Huskers had three of their key players quickly get into early foul trouble. With no depth to spare, NU can't afford to have its best players on the bench, especially against a Michigan State team with such a dominant front court. Brandon Ubel and Andre Almeida need to be on the court as much as possible to allow Nebraska to match-up with the Spartans down low, which won't happen if they rack up bad fouls early on.
Find the Devaney magic

As tough as the past decade or so has been for Nebraska basketball, fans have at least been able to enjoy seemingly one giant home upset of a nationally ranked team per season. At the moment, Michigan State is the only ranked team among NU's final three home opponents this season, meaning tonight might be the last chance for the Huskers to pull off one last stunner before leaving the Devaney Center for good. It would seem the table is set for that to happen, as the Spartans are coming off a huge emotional win over rival Michigan earlier this week and have a showdown with No. 1 Indiana looming next week. If MSU was to ever overlook an opponent, this would seem to be it.

Head coach Tim Miles on if Nebraska would use a similar game plan in the second meeting with Michigan State:

"I don't think you go in with the same exact game plan, and I don't just want to keep it close. We want to figure out how to win the game. There will be maybe a few more things. I don't think there's any doubt in my mind we're going to have to play well and play big. We're going to need those seniors, Andre and Brandon and Dylan, to be good for us."
Senior forward Brandon Ubel on his ideal length of the shorts for NU's 1976-77 season throwback uniforms tonight:

"I'm hoping a little past the thigh, but I haven't been told for sure."

Nebraska 63-61

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