East Lansing — Jaren Jackson Jr. entered Michigan State’s game against Nebraska leading the team in blocks with 14.
Unfortunately for Jackson and the Spartans, the 6-foot-11 freshman also came into the game leading the team in personal fouls with 25.
It’s all part of the maturation process for a young, yet talented superstar.
“He’s just coming down (with his arms) and he doesn’t have to,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “At the end of the game, he kept his hands up and still blocked shots without even getting off the ground. He’s got good timing and he just has to learn.”
Jackson did both well in Sunday’s 86-57 victory over Nebraska at the Breslin Center. He scored 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked three shots while committing just two fouls.
It didn’t start well as the first two fouls came quickly for Jackson, who has 17 blocks on the season. But he reined things in and didn’t commit another foul while playing 24 minutes.
Michigan State coach discusses 86-57 victory over Nebraska to open Big Ten schedule. Matt Charboneau
“It’s an ongoing process. I ain’t gonna lie,” Jackson said. “I feel like I have good timing but I feel like you still have to pick and choose when to go for it. I still have to make sure I’m smart with what I’m doing and not go for all of them because that’s how I pick up that cheap foul.”
Michigan State (7-1) had 11 blocks in the game, the second-most of the season after blocking 12 shots in the loss to Duke. It led to holding Nebraska to 27.4 percent shooting from the field.
“You have to drive to pass, you can’t drive to score on these guys,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “We’ve been able to do that, drive and score on these guys when we’ve won here. But there’s no way you can do that against this team I don’t think.”
That includes getting past Jackson.
“I can’t wait til he turns pro,” Miles joked. “He can quit at semester. … He’s really impressive. I think he has got good skill. Defensively, he really alters the game from his spot because he can come over and make some plays whether it be rebounding or blocking shots or altering shots.”
The next step for Jackson is learning to gather his emotions when he gets a cheap foul.
“I just wear my emotion on my sleeve,” Jackson said. “But I don’t let it get to me. It kind of looks like I’m mad because I have a bad resting face. Really, when I’m mad you’ll know it.”
Viva Las Vegas
Michigan State will play next season in the Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 22 and 23 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, the tournament announced on Sunday.
The Spartans will be joined in the championship rounds by UCLA, Texas and North Carolina. Michigan State beat North Carolina to win the Victory Bracket of this year’s PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore.
Michigan State has never played in the event.
Michigan State committed a season-low six turnovers against Nebraska, two games after it committed 24 in a victory over North Carolina.
… Sophomore forward Nick Ward tied his season high with 22 points. It was his eighth career game with at least 20 points and the 31st time in his career with double figures.
… Nebraska shot 27.4 percent from the field, becoming the third Spartan opponent to shoot less than 30 percent from the field.
… Michigan State held a 32-8 edge in points in the paint.