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.
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.
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.
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.
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.