Kendrick Nunn shoots a three over Michigan State's Alvin Ellis III.
Jan. 18, 2014
|Illini Top Performers|
|Tracy Abrams||15 pts, 3 rebs, 3 assists|
|Rayvonte Rice||12 pts, 5 rebs, 2 assists|
|Jon Ekey||12 pts, 2 rebs|
Michigan State owned the boards early against the Illini (13-6, 2-4), outrebounding them 24-10 over the first 20 minutes. The Spartans used that edge to open up a 10-point lead by halftime and held the Illini at arm's length the rest of the night.
Denzel Valentine and Keith Appling each added 15 points for the Spartans.
Illinois closed to within six at 59-53 with 6:11 in the game on a pair of free throws by Abrams.
But almost as quick as those shots sparked a little hope for Illinois, Appling snuffed it out with a long 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
Michigan was up 62-53 with 5:43 to play, and with the Illini shooting 37.7 percent and unable to drum up many second chances, Michigan was comfortably out front.
Michigan State outrebounded Illinois 38-25. Valentine was at times dominant, particularly in the first half. He had nine rebounds by halftime.
The Spartans also made the most of their shots, sinking 55.8 percent of them.
Illinois has a tough road ahead with its next four at No. 11 Ohio State, at Indiana and then at home against No. 14 Iowa and No. 3 Wisconsin.