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.

Backcourt
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.

Frontcourt
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.

Bench
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.

Overall
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.

Comments

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griff507 wrote on January 31, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Congrats to Coach Groce, and the team.

They had every chance to fold after the first six minutes of the second half, and fought back like the team we had thought we had. They still have their warts, (bad passes,bad shots,below par defense), but give them credit, they are really fighting their butts off. As a life time Illini fan, I can live with losing to good teams, as long as they are fighting like they did tonight!

What I can't live with, is when they play down to the level of bad teams.(Purdue,Northwestern)

Keep fighting guys, and at least I, will be proud of you, win or lose!

Go ILLINI!

blmillini wrote on January 31, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Amen!!!  Now let all the complainers start posting.

AJ's Dad wrote on January 31, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Man it is nice to see that the first comment is positive. I'm tired of all the negativity. These guys are playing through a coaching change and have already played 22 tough battles in a season full of wild match-ups and the occasional taste of HORRIBLE officiating (34 free throws for 1 team = no flow to game). Things will be fine if they play hard. I think these guys are gonna make it to the dance and they'll give us some great highlights along the way. Go Illini!

teachdacc wrote on February 01, 2013 at 5:02 am

Tough game but great to see the team keep fighting!  Good job Coach and team.  Keep head up and let's have a little badger stew on Sunday.

 

I agree, nice to read positive remarks.  True Illini fans would focus on good not bad!  Go Illini!