EAST LANSING, Mich. – Draymond Green had 20 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 6 Michigan State beat Nebraska 62-34 on Saturday night for its seventh straight victory.
Undefeated at home this season, the first-place Spartans (24-5, 13-3 Big Ten) lead No. 8 Ohio State by 1½ games and No. 11 Michigan by two games in the conference race with three games left in the regular season. The Buckeyes, who close the regular season at Michigan State, can pull back within a game by beating Wisconsin at home Sunday.
The last-place Cornhuskers (12-15, 4-11) have lost six of seven.
Michigan State, which led by eight at halftime, turned the game into a rout early in the second half with a 13-0 run that put the Spartans ahead 38-17.
Green stayed in the lopsided game long enough to grab his 10th rebound with 5 minutes left and a 30-point lead, giving him 1,000 in his career. He joined Greg Kelser, Johnny Green and Antonio Smith as Michigan State players with 1,000 rebounds. The senior forward leads the nation with six 20-point, 10-rebound games.
Nebraska's chances to at least be competitive took a hit when leading scorer Bo Spencer didn't play after injuring his left ankle in the final seconds of the first half. Spencer struggled before he got hurt, missing his first four shots and being held scoreless until making his only shot of the game about 2 minutes before halftime.
The Cornhuskers didn't have a double-digit scorer until Brandon Ubel made a 3-pointer with 6:31 remaining. Ubel finished with 13 points.
Green was the only player to score in double figures for Michigan State, but several players contributed offensively and the Spartans shot 59 percent overall.
When Michigan built a big lead early in the second half, Nebraska coach Doc Sadler started emptying his bench to sit starters — and his players took notice.
Cornhuskers center Christopher Niemann looked at the end of the bench and said "get ready" to freshman forward Kye Kurkowski, who played 2 minutes in his first game last week. A few minutes later, Sadler saw senior Caleb Walker sitting next to Kurkowski and waved at the starter in disgust and walked away without putting him back in the game. Alas, Kurkowski didn't play at Michigan State.
The Spartans were motivated to take control early. Green blocked a shot on the opening possession, Adreian Payne dunked the first time they had the ball and Green made a 3-pointer the next time down.
Michigan State scored the first seven points and held the Cornhuskers scoreless for nearly 5 minutes.
Spencer, who was averaging 23 points in his previous two games, couldn't create a shot for himself or have one set up by teammates as he found out just how difficult it is to be the focal point of the Spartans' defensive game plan.
The Spartans built a 12-point lead with 4:37 left in the first half but made only one more shot before halftime, allowing Nebraska to pull within eight.
Michigan State picked up its intensity on defense in the second half and was effective on offense, outscoring the Cornhuskers 39-19 after halftime.
If the Spartans win Tuesday night at Indiana or next Sunday at home against Ohio State, they will earn at least a share of the Big Ten title for the third time in four years.
Another conference championship would be Tom Izzo's seventh, making him the fifth with that many in Big Ten history. Bob Knight won 11 at Indiana to match the conference record set by Purdue's Ward "Piggy" Lambert. Fred Taylor led Ohio State to nine Big Ten titles and Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell had eight.