Men’s basketball unable to hang with Michigan State


By Will Gerard, Staff Writer


Illinois kept it close in the first half, however, Michigan State surged ahead in the second half once it cut down on the turnovers, which plagued the team early.

Michigan State (18-3, 6-2 Big Ten) defeated Illinois (10-11, 0-8 Big Ten) 87-74 at State Farm Center on Monday.

Illinois was unable to avoid the first 0-8 start to Big Ten play in program history in the team’s first game against a ranked opponent this season.

Despite shooting nearly 80-percent from the field and imposing their collective will on the glass, the Spartans held just a seven-point lead at halftime, due in part to 15 first half turnovers.

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Michigan State outrebounded Illinois 37-15 over 40 minutes of action.

Sophomore forward Miles Bridges led all scorers with 27 points (11-13 FG) on a near-perfect shooting performance from the field, and he tied a team-high with eight rebounds.

The Spartans jumped out to a 14-point lead within the first six minutes of the second half after going on a 14-5 run, and the Illini were unable to cut the lead to under eight points for the rest of the game, whereas the Spartans stretched their lead out to 18 points with just under 4:30 minutes remaining.

Sophomore forward Kipper Nichols led the Illinois offensive off the bench with 27 points (9-14, 5-8 3 FG) after scoring just five points in the first half.

Michigan State freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 21 points (5-6FG) and 11 rebounds, and sophomore guard Cassius Winton orchestrated the offense with eight assists, which were primarily alley-oops dished out to big men who were cutting backdoor.

Although, Winston also recorded a game-high eight turnovers, which was twice the amount recorded by any other player for either team.

Junior forward Leron Black scored four quick points to start the second half, but he went to the bench after committing his fourth personal foul with 16:53 minutes left in the ballgame.

Black scored 12 points (6-10 FG) in just 19 minutes. Black fouled out with around 45 seconds left in the contest.

Fellow forward Michael Finke scored all nine of his points in the first half (4-10 FG).

Michigan State finished shooting 68 percent from the field – the best mark of any opposing team at State Farm Center– and it also shot 44-percent from 3-point range.

Freshman Trent Frazier ignited the Illini offense early on a pair of transition baskets at the start of the game, and he finished with 13 points (5-13 FG). His layup with just over one minute left in the game cut the Spartan lead to eight.

Illinois put together a 9-1 run over 2:11 minutes with just over three minutes left in garbage time.