By Connor Clark
KFOR Sports

LINCOLN–(KFOR Dec. 10)–Juwan Gary got his first start and led the team in scoring with 20 points on the way to a 77-70 win for the Nebraska men’s basketball team over Michigan State on Sunday.

In a game where both Nebraska and Michigan State needed a conference win, it was a back-and-forth battle from start to finish. Every time either side had momentum, the opposition came back with a counter punch of their own.

In the first half, it was the three ball, both teams shooting it extremely well from beyond the arc, contrary to the numbers coming in. The Spartans made four of eight attempts, while the Huskers made seven of 16 threes. Both teams were shooting 31 percent or worse from out there previously.

Gary was two of two from three point land and Head Coach Fred Hoiberg was quick to notice Gary’s successes early in his first game as a starter.

“Juwan’s energy out of the gate was great, it’s exactly what he does when he comes off of the bench,” Hoiberg Said. “It doesn’t change the person or the player that Juwan is. He’s going to compete every time he is on the floor.”

With both teams shooting the ball well, Nebraska 44 percent to Michigan State’s 50, the Spartans went to the locker room with a 34-31 lead. It was more of the same in the second half as leads were exchanged, but the Huskers were able to reverse the course of what happened in Minnesota on Wednesday night. A big part of that success was Reink Mast.

“You look at Reink with six assists, it showed a little bit of what Derrick (Walker) did for us last year,” Hoiberg said.

Nebraska’s team communication down the stretch also seemed to be at a new high.

“One thing I was really pleased with, with our team, they were communicating in huddles and talking to each other, taking constructive criticism,” Hoiberg said. “That makes our jobs as coaches a lot easier when those guys are talking about things that need to get fixed.

Nebraska had three others in double-figures, Keisei Tominaga with 15 points, Brice Williams with 14 and C.J. Wilcher with 10. The Huskers outscored Michigan State 46-36 in the second half and were eight for eight from the free throw line with under two minutes left.

Nebraska, now 8-2, 1-1 on the season, has a week off before heading to Manhattan, Kansas to take on the Kansas State Wildcats for their second road game of the year next Sunday.