EAST LANSING, Mich. – Branden Dawson was crumpled on the ground, clutching his surgically repaired left knee.
He bounced back to play again and Derrick Nix scored 17 points to help No. 22 Michigan State pull away for a 66-56 victory over Nebraska on Sunday night.
The Spartans – and Dawson in particular – held their breath early in the second half when the sophomore forward tumbled to the court in pain. He missed the Big Ten and NCAA tournament last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee.
I was scared for a minute and said, Not again,’ he recalled.
Nebraska’s Ray Gallegos was called for a foul when he trailed Dawson on his layup attempt.
He really didn’t clip me, Dawson said. When I planted, the knee buckled.
After Dawson was examined, he walked slowly off the court and later was able to jog back onto it.
All of a sudden he came out running like Superman, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Dawson showed his knee was very healthy in the final seconds, soaring to slam an alley-oop pass from Keith Appling for the game’s final basket.
Michigan State didn’t have much else to cheer about until late in what was a closely contested game.
I have no idea why we looked so lethargic and why we missed so many shots, Izzo said. I am very disappointed in the performance.
The Spartans (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten) have won three straight.
EVANSVILLE 71, NO. 23 WICHITA ST. 67: In Evansville, Colt Ryan had 24 points and eight assists and Evansville made seven free throws over the final last 1:25 to hold off Wichita State.
The Aces (11-6, 4-1 Missouri Valley Conference) took advantage of a season-high 22 turnovers by Wichita State (15-2, 4-1) to win their fourth straight conference game.
There were 16 lead changes and 13 ties in the game. The Shockers’ biggest lead was five points, while the Aces’ was six points. Evansville had a 27-9 advantage in points off turnovers. Malcolm Armstead had a career-high 21 points for Wichita State.
IOWA 70, NORTHWESTERN 50: In Evanston, Ill., Aaron White led a balanced attack with 17 points as Iowa snapped a three-game Big Ten losing streak.
Josh Oglesby had 14 points, and Melsahn Basabe added 10 for the Hawkeyes (12-5, 1-3).
FRANKLIN 86, MANCHESTER 65: In North Manchester, three players scoring in double digits was not enough for the Spartans (4-11, 1-7 HCAC) wasn’t enough against the Grizzlies (10-5, 5-3). David House led the way for Manchester with 19 points, and Jon Thompson added 14.