Jacob Grandison’s efficiency, late Trent Frazier triple seal Illinois men’s basketball’s road win at Michigan State


By Jackson Janes, Sports Editor

No. 12 Illinois nearly let its big double-digit lead slip away late, but it did just enough to take down No. 12 Michigan State, 79-74, in East Lansing on Saturday afternoon.

Junior center Kofi Cockburn led all scorers with 27 points, while graduate student forward Jacob Grandison recorded 24 points on 8-12 shooting and six triples. Senior guard Trent Frazier finished with 12 points, all of which came in the second half.

After struggling early offensively against Rutgers on Wednesday, Illinois came out hot against Michigan State, with graduate student guard Alfonso Plummer opening the scoring on a jumper less than a minute in.

The Spartans responded with a jumper from senior Gabe Brown, but the Illini led for the remainder of the half with Grandison hitting a triple, a recurring theme of the opening frame.

Neither team pulled away until seven minutes into the game, when Illinois used a 9-0 run over a six-minute stretch to extend its lead to 19-8, and Michigan State snapped its scoring drought with two quick jumpers to cut its deficit to seven.

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A 7-1 Illini run, fueled by a Grandison trey, a layup from Cockburn and two Plummer free throws, extended the visitors’ lead to 13 before eventually heading into the break with a 12-point lead, 34-22.

Grandison registered five 3-pointers in the first half, leading all scorers with 15 points. The Illinois defense forced seven turnovers and held Michigan State to 31% shooting in the opening period of play.

Illinois opened the second half with a Grandison layup, and the Illini eventually led by as many as 16 via a Cockburn layup and a Plummer jumper 92 seconds into the frame.

The Illini then went just under four minutes without a field goal, and the Spartans took advantage with a 9-2 run to cut its deficit to single digits. The scoring drought ended with five straight points from Cockburn to reopen a 14-point Illinois advantage. 

Michigan State needed a spark, and it soon got one. The home side used six straight points from junior guard Tyson Walker to cut its deficit to eight points before a layup from Grandison, bringing him up to 21 points on the afternoon, pushed the lead back up to 10.

An 8-2 Illini run that included five points from Frazier gave them a 16-point lead, their largest of the afternoon with nine minutes to play.

Down by double digits, the Spartans got hot late. Walker kept the hosts in the game with a late flurry of production, as Michigan State started getting shots to fall. A 13-2 Spartan run over a three-minute stretch – 11 of those points came from Walker – cut their lead to just two points with 2:28 to play.

The Spartans cut their deficit back to two points after Cockburn hit a jumper with two minutes to play. After sophomore guard Andre Curbelo made one of two free throws to open a three-point Illinois advantage, Michigan State turned the ball over on a Curbelo steal and Frazier finished at the other end to extended the lead to five with under a minute to play.

Eleven seconds later, Walker hit an and-one layup, making the free throw to bring him up to 26 points on the night, 24 of which came in the second half, but a Frazier triple with 23 seconds left extended the Illini’s lead back to five, sealing the road win.

Illinois moves back into a tie for first place with Purdue atop the Big Ten standings at 12-4, and it will return to State Farm Center on Thursday night against No. 18 Ohio State.



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