UI grade vs. No. 18 Michigan State: A

Player of the game: Illinois’ Tracy Abrams
That’s more like it. The junior guard ended a recent personal slump by leading the team in scoring, producing five steals and four assists. While 4 of 9 shooting might not sound like much, it is a big improvement after his recent struggles. And two three-pointers are always welcome. Saturday’s effort could be the late-season boost Abrams needed.

Backcourt
Illinois B, Michigan State C+

Kendrick Nunn didn’t shoot as well as in recent games, but he found other ways to contribute with six rebounds and four assists. Gary Harris was his usual effective self (19 points, five rebounds, four steals), but the other two starters missed 8 of 11 shots. That will get you beat.

Frontcourt
Illinois , B-, Michigan State D

Nnanna Egwu had more fouls (five) than points or rebounds. But we’re giving Malcolm Hill to the big guys and he produced again (10 points, four rebounds). Adreian Payne had a decent game on the glass (seven rebounds) but had as many turnovers (four) as points.

Bench
Illinois C+, Michigan State  C+

When you only score 53 points, there aren’t a whole lot for the subs. But Jon Ekey got more than his share (seven) as he continues to make important contributions. Spartans backups combined for just eight points, but Branden Dawson led the team with seven rebounds.

Overall
Illinois A, Michigan State D

Any win at East Lansing is worth an A. Even when the Spartans are in a funk. Like they are now. John Groce’s team is building momentum for the postseason and coaches around the league aren’t eager to be Illini’s first-round opponent.
 

Comments

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IlliniHimey wrote on March 01, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Wrong, wrong, dead wrong.  A++++++++ today.  Beat those weasels on the road is worthy of the highest mark.  Particularly enjoyed the blow by handshake from Izzo.

Bwp 5P wrote on March 01, 2014 at 9:03 pm

I can't imagine the way the guys are playing NOW......that anyone would be looking forward to playing them!!!!

This is fun! WELCOME BACK TEAM!

Illini52 wrote on March 02, 2014 at 8:03 am

Where are the haters? I miss them. Groce needs to play more zone. He is. This team doesn't play defense. Yes they do. This team is selfish and Ray Rice is a ball hog. Balanced scoring. The freshmen need to be starting. They are. I guess when they have nothing to complain about they can't post. Great game Coach Groce and the Illini. Don't stop now. Play your way into the NCAA.

jjohnson wrote on March 02, 2014 at 9:03 am

Interesting grade. I would have -- and not as a knock -- given maybe a B+; there were  too many turn-overs.

And I would have been ecstatic, because Illinois beat a very superior team without having to play to perfection and with some dubious phantom foul calls against them. Amazing what great defense and the continued superlative effort can do to elevate the results. I would not have expected this result; it was a complete delight.