LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — As far as Tom Izzo is concerned, a 21-point win over lowly Nebraska doesn’t mean everything’s OK now for Michigan State.
The Spartans, who have been struggling for almost a month, had a good shooting night, dominated the boards and got big contributions from reserves Gabe Brown and Kyle Ahrens in the 86-65 win Thursday.
But a season-high 22 turnovers and the inability to put away the Cornhuskers until well after halftime overshadowed the positives in Izzo’s mind.
“I can’t be very excited about us even thought it looks like we shot well,” Izzo said. “What we did isn’t going to get us where we need to get.”
Brown had career highs with 17 points and five 3-pointers, and Ahrens had a season-high 14 points in 22 minutes, his most action in the seven games he’s been back from an Achilles’ and ankle injury. The Spartans were 13 of 27 on 3s and shot 52 percent for the game.
Cassius Winston led the Spartans (18-9, 10-6 Big Ten) with 23 points, but Izzo was troubled by Winston and Rocket Watts combining for nine turnovers.
“We tried to get ball inside, they did a great job of doubling, and we did a poor job of passing,” Izzo said. “I was so disappointed in the turnovers. Everybody charts those differently. They had 16 points off turnovers. What did they score, 65? I thought it was 60 points off turnovers. That’s what it felt like where I was.”
The Spartans finally busted open the game with a 22-8 run in the middle of the second half. Nebraska (7-19, 2-13) dropped its 11th straight game, the most consecutive losses in the same season in program history.
Xavier Tillman, playing three days after his wife gave birth to the couple’s second child, had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Spartans.
Dachon Burke led the Huskers with 21 points, and Haanif Cheatham added 14.
Just when it looked like the Spartans might begin pulling away early in the second half, Nebraska converted three straight turnovers into two fast-break baskets and a free throw to pull within 48-46.
Then the Spartans used an 11-1 spurt to take their first double-digit lead, and they went on to win easily.
“It’s kind of hard to find motivation, but we just keep trying,” Nebraska’s Yvan Ouedraogo said.
DETROIT (AP) — Like many NBA coaches, Mike Budenholzer was worried about his Milwaukee Bucks needing a game or two to get back up to speed after the All-Star break.
It wasn’t a concern for long Thursday night.
The Bucks had 70 points by halftime on their way to a 126-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
“That was a really impressive first half and I thought we did a lot of good things in the second half, too,” Budenholzer said. “Our energy had been good the last two days, but that doesn’t always equate to good play. There were a lot of positives for the first game after the break.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points and 16 rebounds as the Bucks led by as many as 34 points in the second half. Detroit trailed 70-41 at halftime and could never get enough stops to mount any significant rally in the final two quarters.
“We came out and played our game and played with pace and aggression,” said former Piston Khris Middleton, who scored 28 points. “That’s how we have to play the rest of the way.”
Eric Bledsoe added 19 points for the Bucks, who won for the 15th time in 17 games. Brook Lopez scored 18.
The Pistons have lost five straight since trading Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Feb. 6 and were playing for the first time since buying out Reggie Jackson’s contract.
“With a young team, it takes getting smacked upside the head a few times to wake them up a little bit,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “Tonight showed everyone how far we still have to go when it comes to building our roster and developing our young players.”
Christian Wood, one of seven players in the game who has played for both teams, had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Bruce Brown finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
‘”Those guys are like family, but once we touch the court, it is for blood,” Wood said. “I’m going to go right at Giannis and he’s going to go right at me.”
The game was lopsided early, with the Bucks leading by 14 at the end of the first quarter and 29 at the half. Detroit’s 41 first-half points were only two more than Middleton (20) and Antetokounmpo (19) had on their own.
“It was big to come off the break and play good basketball and be up by almost 30 at the half,” Antetokounmpo said. “We picked up right where we left off.”
Milwaukee also had a 14-0 advantage in points off turnovers, many coming after Pistons drove into the lane before throwing away an attempted kick-out.
“That’s the No. 1 team in the league when it comes to protecting the paint, so you have to have a plan before you get in there,” Casey said. “They have such unbelievable length that once you get in there, everything closes up in a hurry. You either have to get to the rim or know where you are passing the ball.”
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