Third-ranked Spartans control Huskers from start in Big Ten opener

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Huskers shot well from long range Sunday.

But it didn’t matter much.

No. 3 Michigan State had too much firepower, including Jaren Jackson.

The freshman showed some of his potential by staying out of foul trouble and finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks to help the Spartans beat Nebraska 86-57.

Jackson was limited to a total of eight points and eight rebounds in the two previous games, wins over No. 5 Notre Dame and then-No. 9 North Carolina, because he had four fouls against the Fighting Irish and three against the Tar Heels. He had four fouls in each of his first two games, overcoming that well enough against top-ranked Duke to score 19 points, and he fouled out in a scoreless game against Stony Brook in his third game.

“Usually, I get four or five of them,” Jackson acknowledged. “I just didn’t want to pick up anything crazy.”

The 6-foot-11 forward is regarded as one of the top prospects for the 2018 NBA draft if he leaves school, and NU coach Tim Miles hopes he jumps at the opportunity.

“I can’t wait until he goes pro,” Miles said. “Maybe he can go at semester.”

Michigan State’s Nick Ward, meanwhile, matched his season high with 22 points despite being limited to 16 minutes because he had a season-high four fouls. Cassius Winston scored 16 points and had seven assists, and Miles Bridges had 12 points for the Spartans.

Michigan State (7-1) has won six straight since losing to top-ranked Duke, beating each team by at least 18 points.

Nebraska (6-3) kept the game close for about 10 minutes, unlike the Fighting Irish in an 81-63 loss Thursday night.

The Spartans took control with a 16-4 run that gave it a 34-16 lead with five minutes left in the first half and coasted to another lopsided victory.

The Huskers, despite shooting 10 of 22 from 3-point range, continue to search for more players who can score against quality opponents. Their only double-digit scorer was James Palmer, who had 15 points.

They also shot 17 of 62 (27.4 percent) overall — or 7 of 40 from inside the arc.

“How we create for others and get easy shots for our teammates is something that we’re figuring out, slowly,” Miles said. “That needs to improve.”

The Spartans, meanwhile, may get more No. 2 votes in the Top 25 than Kansas (7-0) because of their strength of schedule, beating the Fighting Irish then North Carolina during their dominant run. Michigan State is the only team among the Power Six to face three schools in the top 10 in November.

The Spartans also blocked 11 shots, one shy of their season high, and are averaging seven-plus blocks a game.

“You have to drive to pass,” Miles said. “You can’t drive to score on these guys.”

It doesn’t get much easier for the Huskers, who host No. 12 Minnesota on Tuesday night.

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