It was a lopsided night in the Big Ten, as Michigan State and Illinois both cruised to easy wins. It was a step in the right direction for the Spartans and Illini, who each suffered losses on Saturday.
Big Ten Game of the Day
-Michigan State 65, Minnesota 47
The Spartans (12-6, 4-1 Big Ten) dominated on the defensive end of the floor to rout No. 24 Minnesota (15-3, 3-1) and give head coach Tom Izzo his 250th Big Ten win.
After looking lackluster during much of Saturday’s loss to Penn State, the Spartans came out with energy on Wednesday.
Miles Bridges provided a boost by scoring 16 of Michigan State’s 39 first-half points, including a pair of highlight-reel plays that helped the Spartans open up a 39-17 halftime advantage. Bridges finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four blocks on the night, shooting 5-of-7 from the floor in 22 minutes of action.
Joshua Langford added 13 points, while Nick Ward had 9 points, and Eron Harris and Kenny Goins each finished with 8 points.
The freshmen-led Spartans will likely continue to have an up-and-down season, but when they play like they did Wednesday night they show that they will still be a factor in the Big Ten race.
It was Michigan State’s first win of the season over a ranked opponent, having entered the day 0-4 against top 25 teams.
On the other hand, Minnesota lost its first game since being ranked for the first time since February 2013.
For as good of a season as they’re having, the Gophers showed that there’s still plenty of work to do if they want to compete in the Big Ten and return to the NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota shot just 33.3 percent (19-for-57) from the field, including 18.8 percent (3-for-16) from the 3-point line, on Wednesday.
Minnesota point guard Nate Mason scored a team-high 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Sophomore guard Dupree McBrayer added 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
Just two players scored off the Minnesota bench, as freshman Eric Curry had 7 points and six rebounds and senior Akeem Springs chipped in 3 points.
The Gophers had six assists on 19 field goals, while the Spartans totaled 15 assists on 23 made baskets.
Minnesota struggled to get production from its big men, as centers Reggie Lynch and Bakary Konate combined for 2 points and six rebounds on 1-for-5 shooting.
The Gophers were held well below their season scoring average, scoring a season-low 47 points to lower their average to 75.7 points per game.
Michigan State has handed Minnesota its only two losses of the season, as the Spartans also recorded a 75-74 overtime win in Minneapolis on Dec. 27.
The Gophers will visit Penn State on Saturday, while the Spartans are scheduled to visit Ohio State on Sunday.
-Illinois 85, Michigan 69
The Illini (12-5, 2-2) shot 17-of-21 from the field in the second half and used their highest-scoring performance of the Big Ten season to notch an 85-69 home win over Michigan (11-6, 1-3).
Entering the night as the two worst teams in the Big Ten in defensive field-goal percentage, the Wolverines and Illini both had tough times on that end of the floor.
The Michigan big men had a particularly tough time, as Illinois shot 64.2 percent (34-for-53) from the filed.
Illinois senior center Maverick Morgan gave Michigan fits, shooting an efficient 8-of-9 from the field to finish with a team-high 16 points.
The Wolverines also had trouble on the glass, finishing with just 17 rebounds, partially due to Illinois’ hot shooting and partially due to Illinois’ advantage inside.
The Illini also got it done from deep, shooting 64.3 percent (9-for-14) from the 3-point line.
Illinios’ Jalen Coleman-Lands shot 4-of-5 from behind the arc to finish with 12 points, four assists and three rebounds.
It was a balanced effort for the Illini, as six players scored in double figures and the Illinois bench outscored the Michigan bench 28-9.
Malcolm Hill added 15 points, Kipper Nichols had 13 points, and Leron Black and Michael Finke each finished with 10 points for the Illini.
There are some positive takeaways for Michigan, which committed just eight turnovers and shot 52.9 percent (27-for-51) from the field, 50.0 percent (7-for-14) on 3-pointers and 80.0 percent (8-for-10) on free throws.
Michigan junior forward D.J. Wilson led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman added 14 points for the Wolverines, while Derrick Walton Jr. had 11 point and seven assists, and Zak Irvin had 10 points and six rebounds.
The Wolverines, who fell to 1-3 in Big Ten play, will look to get back on track when they host Nebraska on Saturday. The Illini will look to improve above .500 in the Big Ten when they host Maryland on Saturday.