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Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team shakes off sloppy play to win 86-65 at Nebraska

Michigan State’s Cassius Winston, top, looks to pass against Nebraska’s Dachon Burke Jr. during the second half in Lincoln, Neb., on Thursday. (AP photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. — 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.

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