Michigan State downs Illini, 74-66, takes Big Ten title

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Michigan State won the Big Ten regular season championship Sunday, holding off a late charge by No. 20 Illinois for a 74-66 victory.

Kalin Lucas led the Spartans (23-5, 13-3) with 18 points. Raymar Morgan added 14 points and Delvon Roe had 10.

After Jeff Jordan’s steal and layup tied it at 58 for Illinois (23-7, 11-6) with just over seven minutes to play, but Michigan State regained the lead and won coach Tom Izzo his fifth conference title in 13 seasons with the Spartans.

Mike Tisdale led the Illini with 15 points, all but two in the second half.

Lacking an answer for Tisdale, Michigan State coach Tim Izzo sent 6-foot-11, 260-pound reserve center Idong Ibok into the game.

He all but shut Tisdale down, and Michigan State outscored the Illini 16-8 down the stretch. Six of those points came from Lucas, four from the free throw line.

The Spartans opened the game with a 7-0 run that set an up-tempo pace – something Illinois hasn’t played much this season – and put the Illini on their heels.

A minute into the second half, the Spartans wedged the gap between the teams wider, moving ahead by 11 at 41-30 after a bucket by Morgan.

Illinois pulled close once more, trimming the lead to five at 43-38 with just under 16 minutes to play on a short jumper by Davis.

But Morgan answered with a quick basket and Lucas swiped the inbound pass that followed, putting Michigan State back up by nine at 47-38 with 15:22 left.