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Illinois Outlasts Michigan State, 71-62

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Tom Izzo should probably be concerned.  This is the second game against a top-flight conference opponent that they have started slow on defense and tried to catch up late.  For whatever reason, the Michigan State Spartans let their opponents move freely on offense and take wide open shots for much of the game.  Against both Wisconsin and Illinois, they tried to claw their way back into the game while the clock was winding down.  The difference is Illinois would not be denied, and showed its maturity in quelling the Michigan State run.  

On the other hand, Illinois kept Michigan State from taking open looks and got themselves in passing lanes.  Statistically it was an even match for the two teams.  Each ended with 4 steals and 9 turnovers.  Michigan State had 2 blocks and 31 rebounds to Illinois' 1 block and 28 rebounds.  The major difference came in shooting, where Michigan State felt the Illini's defensive pressure.  They ended under 40% shooting on the night and 27% from three point range.  Illinois was 53% from the floor and 47% from behind the arc.  Additionally, Illinois took 22 free throws to Michigan State's 12.  

More breakdown and individual player stats after the jump.

Michigan State's Kalin Lucas was the team's leading scorer with 15 points.  He added two rebounds and two assists.  Draymond Green had 12 points and 4 assists, and Delvon Roe chipped in 8 points with 2 steals.  Korie Lucious was only 1-8 shooting, finishing with 3 points.  Durrell Summers ended with 13 points on 4-12 shooting and two free throws, as well as 2 steals and a block.    

The Spartans' next game is at Purdue, who looks to rebound from two close road losses to Minnesota and West Virginia against Penn State tomorrow night.  The game in West Lafayette will be featured on ESPN's College Game Day this coming Saturday.  Following Purdue, MSU will return home to play in-state rival Michigan and Indiana respectively.  

Illinois' starters played well, with Demetri McCamey's 15 points and Mike Davis' 11.  However, it was the Illini's bench that showed up and proved to be the difference.  Brandon "Chris" Paul had 20 points, going 7-11 from the floor with 4 three-pointers.  Jereme Richmond also played well, adding 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.  Illinois' may not have quantity in depth, but they certainly have quality.

Illinois faces Ohio State at home and look to make a statement, as well as a legitimate case for Big10 title contention on Saturday.  They'll then play in Bloomington against a weak Indiana squad, and return home against Penn State to avenge their January 11th loss.