Entering tonight’s contest, the Michigan State-Illinois series was tied at 55. The last 13 games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less, and this was no different. And the #9 Michigan State Spartans fell to the Illinois Fighting Illini 42-41.
There was really ugly offense in the first half, by both teams. A 22-20 score is often the result when one team’s best player shoots 2-8 from the floor, and the other team’s best player sits with foul trouble. D.J. Richardson was pretty much the entire offense for Illinois in the first half, scoring 7 of the team’s 22 points.
McDonald’s All-American, and local Chicago product Branden Dawson had 7 of the Spartans 20 in the first half. He led the Spartans in scoring for the game with 12, on 4-11 shooting.
State was terrible shooting the ball tonight, going just 24% for the field, 21% from the field.
Keith Appling has been one of the Illini main weapons this year, but he had the worst game of his career tonight, going 1-11 from the field and committing five turnovers.
“Pressure, just making him uncomfortable out there, from one end of the court to the other” said Illini point guard Tracy Abrams who hit a huge three down the stretch to tie the game at 40.
The Illini almost gave the game away down the stretch missing two 1 in 1 front ends in the closing seconds and getting badly out rebounded 49-32.
“Kudos goes to us for the rebounding margin, but goes to them for causing 16 turnovers, and both teams shot miserably,” Spartans Coach Tom Izzo
Brandon Paul led the Illini with 18 points, but had an awful 6-17 shooting night.
It was certainly ugly, just like many Illini wins have been this year.
Illini coach Bruce Weber was asked, if the Minnesota game was mud wrestling, then what was this?
“this was WW…whatever the heck that is,” Weber said, referring to the WWE. Earlier, he made light of the game’s ugliness by saying: “maybe we’ll let lose a little bit and get 50.”
Draymond Green, the unquestioned King Leonidas, at least on-the-court, of these Spartans picked up a technical in the first half at 10:56. He got whistled for an offensive foul, his third, and his reaction warranted a T. Naturally, he sat the remainder of the half.
Green leads the Big Ten in rebounding, and has more double doubles than Jared Sullinger of Ohio State. That truly says something- given how everyone had Sully as the preseason conference player of the year. Green hurt his left leg, and left the game with 3:50 left.
Tonight’s game was Operation Blue Out at the Assembly Hall. Fans were encouraged to wear blue to beat cancer. Operation Blue Out shirts are available online here. Please help support this very worthy cause, as a portion of the proceeds from all sales go to Coaches vs. Cancer.
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