Kenny Goins steps up to star in Michigan State Spartans men's basketball win over Nebraska
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING — Kenny Goins and Matt McQuaid have been role players for much of their careers at Michigan State.
On the same night and in timely fashion, the seniors were stars for the ninth-ranked Spartans.
Goins scored 21 of his career-high 24 points in the first half and McQuaid finished with a career-best 22, leading Michigan State to a 91-76 win over Nebraska on Tuesday.
“It’s our last week in the Breslin and both of us are trying to go out with a bang,” Goins said.
Goins and McQuaid, along with freshman Aaron Henry, who scored a season-high 15 points, made up for Cassius Winston matching his season low with eight points.
Winston was slowed by knee tendinitis.
“Nothing that will linger,” coach Tom Izzo insisted.
The Spartans (24-6, 15-4 Big Ten) close the regular season against No. 7 Michigan (26-4, 15-4) at home Saturday night with at least a share of the conference championship at stake. No. 11 Purdue lost at Minnesota, dropping the Boilermakers into a three-way tie with Michigan State and the Wolverines.
“With a championship at stake, that just adds that much more,” Goins said.
The Cornhuskers (15-15, 5-14) have lost four in a row and 11 of 13 in what might be Tim Miles ‘ final season as their coach. Relatively speaking, they bounced back after an 82-53 loss at Michigan.
“That was such a disappointment,” Miles said. “We’ve got to have more in us than that and tonight we did. There are no moral victories, but at the same time, we fought back to seven.”
Nebraska’s James Palmer matched his season high with 30 points. Glynn Watson equaled his season best with 25 points while Isaiah Roby added 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Michigan State started slowly before taking control and leading 47-29 at halftime after Goins was 5 of 5 on 3-pointers and McQuaid scored 13 in the opening 20 minutes.
“The basket looked huge in the first half,” Goins said.
Goins entered scoring 7.8 points per game and the former walk-on averaged 3.4 or fewer points over his first three seasons.
“He’s a self-made guy,” Miles said. “He went from a guy not in the scouting report years ago to going out and having a great night.”
McQuaid topped his previous best scoring game with a 3 midway through the second half to give the Spartans a 69-55 advantage after Nebraska rallied to pull within seven points.
“He’s playing some of his best basketball,” Izzo said.