LINCOLN, Neb. -- Michigan State survived its trap game.
Four days after its waxing of instate rival and fourth-ranked Michigan, and three days before facing top-ranked Indiana, the Spartans won on the road against the Big Ten Conference's 11th-place team.
Keith Appling scored 16 points, and No. 8 Michigan State, leading by one point six minutes into the second half, pulled away to defeat Nebraska 73-64 on Saturday night at the Devaney Sports Center.
"I feared it the whole time," Michigan State coach Tim Izzo said of a possible letdown following Tuesday's 75-52 victory over Michigan. "I feared it from late Tuesday night, to be very honest with you. It's just human.
"This team is not mature enough yet, as I learned this week. It's not a mature enough team, in some ways, to handle all these different things."
Michigan State (22-4, 11-2 Big Ten) exerted its size to outrebound Nebraska 42-24, with Adreian Payne collecting 14 rebounds. Payne, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward, also scored 15 points for his first double-double since Dec. 15.
Gary Harris added 14 points and Derrick Nix scored 13 for Michigan State, which shot 51 percent from the field, and was 23 of 29 on free throws.
Appling, who surpassed 1,000 career points, was only 3 for 11 from the field, but 9 for 10 on free throws.
"I was really proud of Keith," Izzo said. "His 3 for 11 was not indicative of how he played. The way he ran our team today, the defense played, the way he pushed the ball, I thought he did a great job. And Derrick and (Payne) were phenomenal inside. It's getting to be a comfort zone where we can go in there."
Dylan Talley scored a career-high 28 points, and Shavon Shields had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead Nebraska (12-14, 3-10). Shields' double-double was the first of the freshman guard's career.
The Huskers, finishing a stretch playing four of five games against ranked teams, were coming off a 29-point loss Wednesday at top-ranked Indiana, a game it had within single digits to start the second half.
Nebraska hung closer, and longer, against Michigan State, a team that defeated the Huskers by 10 points in East Lansing in February. But Nebraska, which started the second half shooting 57.1 percent, couldn't keep pace with Michigan State.
Shields hit five of his first seven field goal attempts to start the second half, and his long jumper with 14:16 remaining had Nebraska within 41-40.
Michigan State then assumed control with a 20-6 run that lasted until the game's final minutes. The Spartans led by as many as 15 points.
Nebraska coach Tim Miles pointed to a turnover that led to a 3-pointer, and some errant shooting on Nebraska's part, in the game-turning run.
"We had some pretty good looks and we missed," said Miles, in his first year at Nebraska. "We just don't have much margin for error if we're going to win that game. Unfortunately, just a few things went wrong in that little spell just doomed us."
Ray Gallegos, who averages 13 points a game and is Nebraska's second-leading scorer on the season, was 0-for-13 shooting from the field, including 0 of 10 on 3-pointers. He finished with one point.
Michigan State led 29-24 at halftime after leading by as many as 11 points.
Nebraska was within one point when the Spartans went on a 13-3 run to take a 23-12 lead with 9:12 remaining.
Denzel Valentine came off the bench and scored five points in that run, and Gary Harris capped it by getting a steal at midcourt, resulting in an easy dunk.
A free throw by Ray Gallegos and 3-pointers by Brandon Ubel and Dylan Talley helped Nebraska pull within 23-19 with 4:40 remaining.
Talley had another 3-pointer when he simply threw the ball in the air, hoping to draw a foul. He didn't, but the ball fell through the hoop to cut Michigan State's lead to 27-24.
Matt Costello scored Michigan State's final points before half on an easy basket underneath.
The Spartans had 10 turnovers in the first half, but held the lead by holding Nebraska to 9-of-28 shooting, while also outrebounding the Huskers 20-10 before halftime.
NOTES: Boston Celtics assistant coach Tyronn Lue, an 11-year NBA veteran who led Nebraska to its last NCAA Tournament appearance in 1998, was inducted into Nebraska's basketball Hall of Fame at halftime. ... Michigan State leads the Big Ten in steals at 8.7 per game, marking the first time since 1998 the Spartans have led the conference in that category. ... Nebraska senior forward Brandon Ubel picked up his 500th career rebound in the first half. ... Appling has 1,003 career points, the 43rd Michigan State player to reach the milestone, and the 29th player to do it in three seasons.