Illini grade vs. Sparty: B minus
Our breakdown of Thursday's game from East Lansing: Michigan State 80, Illinois 75
Player of the Game: Michigan State’s Keith Appling
Something Tom Izzo said at halftime must have had an impact on the star guard, who finished with 24 points, eight boards and seven assists after a sluggish first 20 minutes.
Michigan State A, Illinois B
Appling wasn’t the only Spartan playing. Super frosh Gary Harris played well until going to the bench with back spasms. After a one-turnover first half, Illini looked like they applied grease to their hands at halftime. Very sloppy.
Michigan State C, Illinois C
Derrick Nix wasn’t in the starting lineup after landing in Izzo’s doghouse and Alex Gauna is no Nix. Sam McLaurin seems to be getting more comfortable as a starter. Normally toasty Nnanna Egwu was off the mark.
Michigan State A-, Illinois B
What’s this? Tyler Griffey hit an outside shot, though not a three-pointer. Myke Henry played well enough to earn more playimg time. So did Spartan guard Denzel Valentine.
Michigan State A-, Illinois B-
When the Illini look back at their season, they are going to point to this game as the one that got away. A 10-point halftime lead disappeared in a hurry against Team Izzo, which was near perfect in the second half.