Men's Basketball
Postgame Notes - Illinois at #18 Michigan State

Tracy Abrams had 5 steals as the Illini held their opponent under 50 points for the fourth-straight game.
Tracy Abrams had 5 steals as the Illini held their opponent under 50 points for the fourth-straight game.

March 1, 2014

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Illinois Postgame Notes

Illinois 53, No. 18/18 Michigan State 46
Breslin Center, East Lansing, Mich. // March 1, 2014 // Attendance: 14,797 (sellout)

1. Illinois won its third consecutive game and second straight road game, and recorded its third road win in its last four road appearances.

2. It also was the 900th Big Ten win for the Illini, making them the first conference team to reach 900 B1G victories.

3. It was the first win for the Illini at Michigan State since 2006, but was the fourth there since 2002. Illinois left the Breslin Center victorious in 2002, 2005, 2006 and now 2014, which is tied with Ohio State for the most by an opposing team over the last 13 seasons.

4. It was the Illini's second win over a ranked team this season (also defeated No. 22 Missouri on Dec. 21) and first road win over a ranked team since winning at No. 18 Minnesota on Feb. 10, 2013. The Orange and Blue are now 2-6 against the AP top-25 this season and 6-14 in the John Groce era.

5. The Illini defense continued to dominate, holding its fourth-straight opponent under 50 points ¬- Ohio State (48), Minnesota (49), Nebraska (48) and Michigan State (46). It is the first time since the 1947 Big Ten season that the Illini have held at least four straight league foes below 50 points (Jan. 6-25, 1947).

6. The 46 points scored by Michigan State is its lowest total in a Big Ten game since losing at Illinois, 42-41, on Jan. 31, 2012. It's also its lowest point total at home since Nov. 8, 2006 (45-36 win over Brown), and lowest at home in a B1G game since Jan. 4, 1997 (68-43 loss to Minnesota).

7. Illinois racked up 14 steals on the day, the most in a game since Jan. 2, 2010, vs. Gonzaga (15). Rayvonte Rice and Tracy Abrams both had five steals against the Spartans, a new career-high for Rice and tying a career-high for Abrams.

8. The Illini nearly led wire-to-wire and trailed only once for a total of 58 seconds. Illinois used an 11-2 run early in the game to turn a 10-7 lead into a 21-9 advantage at the 10:31 mark. Then after MSU tied it at 28 at halftime and took a 30-28 lead just seconds into the second half, the Illini responded with a 12-2 run to open up a 40-32 lead with 15:26 remaining. The Spartans got no closer than three the rest of the way.

9. Illinois shot 47.7 percent from the field (21-of-44), its best shooting game during Big Ten play and highest since hitting 52.0 percent against Dartmouth on Dec. 10, 2013. The Illini held the Spartans to 39.1 percent shooting to improve to 11-0 this season and 24-1 overall under Groce when outshooting their opponent.

10. The Illini forced 16 Michigan State turnovers, the most they've forced in a game since Indiana had 23 in the conference opener on Dec. 31. Despite having 15 turnovers of their own, the Illini held a 25-9 advantage in points off turnovers, their highest differential of the season in that category (+16).

11. Freshman Malcolm Hill had 10 points, his second straight game in double-figures and the fourth of his career. He was joined in double-figures by Abrams (12 points) and Rice (10 points).

12. Fellow freshman Kendrick Nunn continued his solid play as of late, scoring eight points, pulling down a game- and career-high six rebounds, and tying his career-high with four assists. He also hit 2-of-4 from behind the arc, bringing his three-point shooting to 53.3 percent (16-of-30) since entering the starting lineup six games ago.