Winston and Nick Ward provided the offensive punch, and No. 6 Michigan State’s defense did the rest en route to a 70-64 road victory over Nebraska on Thursday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Spartans stifled the Cornhuskers, who made just 5 of 26 3-pointers and shot just 30 percent for the game.
Winston scored in a variety of ways to finish with a career-high 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting and six assists. He also passed the 1,000-point mark after 21/2 seasons at MSU.
Ward added 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Kenny Goins grabbed 11 of the Spartans’ 42 rebounds.
The victory for MSU (17-2, 7-0 Big Ten) was its 11th straight, and it ended a 20-game home win streak for Nebraska (13-5, 3-4).
The Spartans host No. 19 Maryland at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Breslin Center (FS1).
Winston, who had 16 points by the break on 6-of-10 shooting with three assists, came up big at the start and finish of the first half.
The junior point guard scored seven points in the first 3:37 as MSU opened a 12-7 lead early, then went silent as the Cornhuskers started marking him a little closer.
But in the final seven minutes of the back-and-forth half, Winston again took over. He scored nine of the Spartans’ last 13 points in an array of ways, including a jumper at the elbow, a quick catch-and-shoot deep inside Nebraska’s 1-3-1 zone and a pair of free throws after a pump-fake move on the baseline to draw contact.
Ward got a pair of baskets, then Winston slithered through the paint and scooped in a layup while drawing contact, completing the three-point play to send MSU into halftime up 33-28.
In the second half, Winston made five of six free throws down the stretch as the Spartans extended their lead to double digits before a frantic Nebraska comeback attempt fell short.
With Joshua Langford (left foot) and Kyle Ahrens (back) still missing, Izzo had to shuffle his roster early and often.
Gabe Brown got 13 minutes in the first half as Aaron Henry had two early fouls. Izzo used a lineup that had all three big men — Ward, Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman — on the court together. He went with Conner George and Thomas Kithier at the end of the opening half to prevent further foul trouble for Winston and Ward.
Henry made his second consecutive start on the wing, the second of his career, and was effective in the second half after the early foul problems.
Brown’s length made an impact, and he drove to the basket with a sweeping move and converted a three-point play in the first half.
Two of the Big Ten’s top scoring offenses struggled in the second half.
Both teams missed around the basket but also caused chaos at the other end by disrupting their opponent’s offense. The Spartans held Nebraska to 1-of-12 shooting from 3-point range in the final half, while the Cornhuskers forced MSU into 15 turnovers that turned into 19 points for Nebraska.
The Spartans’ frenetic full-game pace in transition began to wear down Nebraska late in the second half. The Huskers tied the game 44-44 with 9:44 to play, but MSU went on a 16-4 run that started with a critical 3-pointer from Henry and included six points from Ward.
Nebraska made it interesting as the Spartans kept committing fouls in the last minute. The Huskers got a five-point swing with less than 30 seconds to play on a pair of layups and two MSU fouls.
But Winston set a new personal best in scoring with a pair of free throws to seal it with 23.8 ticks left and a rebound in the closing seconds.