STARKVILLE, Miss. - With its first postseason victory since 2010, Mississippi State defeated Nebraska, 66-59, in the first round of the NIT at Humphrey Coliseum.
Back in the tournament for the first time since 2012, the Bulldogs treated a spring break coliseum crowd of 3,485 to a hard-fought victory in what will be the final home game of the season. MSU (23-11) will face Baylor (19-14) at 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN in the second round of the tournament.
The Bulldogs finished with a school-record 19 wins at home this season.
Aric Holman led the Bulldogs with 16 points, while Abdul Ado added 15 points and Xavian Stapleton scored 12 points. Lamar Peters did not score, but was credited with career-high 14 assists, an MSU postseason record, and four rebounds.
Holman collected a double-double as he had a team-high 10 rebounds. Ado just missed a double-double as he had nine rebounds.
"Our defense was really good tonight," Coach Ben Howland said. "We had some tremendous effort on that end of the floor. Offensively, I thought we played well. Lamar was spectacular. He had 11 assists at halftime and really controlled things for us.
"Aric had a double-double with four blocked shots. We did a great job of getting the ball to Abdul in positions where he can be successful. To win the battle of the boards by 17 is a huge stat."
The Bulldogs grabbed a 15-8 lead with a 9-2 run. A dunk by Ado closed the first quarter with the Bulldogs ahead 19-12.
In the second quarter, Nebraska scored seven straight to tie the game. A 3-pointer by Holman broke that tie. A pair of free throws by Ado ran the lead to 24-19. The lead was extended to seven points after a 3-pointer from Stapleton made it 30-23 with 2:28 left in the half.
The Bulldogs shook off 23.5 percent shooting from the field in the second quarter to lead 33-28 at halftime.
Nebraska cut the lead to one early in the third quarter. The Bulldogs then built the lead back to 47-42 on a layup by Ado. Eli Wright scored as the third quarter expired to give the Bulldogs a 50-45 lead.
Nebraska scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to take a 51-50 lead. The Bulldogs reclaimed the lead for good a possession later. A 7-0 run gave the Bulldogs a 61-53 lead with 1:45 left.
For the contest, MSU hit 24 of 57 shots from the field (42.1 percent), 6 of 18 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 12 of 18 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). Nebraska hit 23 of 65 shots from the field (35.4 percent), 6 of 22 shots from 3-point range (27.3 percent) and 7 of 9 shots from the foul line (77.8 percent).
MSU held a 47-30 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 16 assists and 13 turnovers, while the Cornhuskers had 10 assists and five turnovers.
Nebraska (22-11) received 13 points from James Palmer, Jr., 12 points from Isaac Copeland and 10 points from Isaiah Roby. Roby had a team-high eight rebounds.