No. 2 Michigan State Tops Illinois 81-61, Seals Share of Title on Senior Night
MSU celebrated its three seniors on Senior Night.
EAST LANSING, Mich. Sophomore guard/forward Miles Bridges scored 19 points to lead three players in double figures as No. 2/1 Michigan State used a big second half to pull away from Illinois for an 81-61 victory, clinching at least a share of the 2018 Big Ten Regular Season title.
Michigan State has won 11-straight games and improves to 27-3 overall and 15-2 in the Big Ten Conference, while Illinois falls to 13-16 overall and 3-13 in league play.
MSU led by three points at the break (38-35), but scored the first 12 points of the second half and took a 47-35 lead after a layup from freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. with 16:05 on the clock.
The Illini went without a field goal for the first 6:10 of the second half and the Spartans extended their lead to 50-36 with 15:20 to play.
Illinois pulled to within 52-40 on a jumper from Leron Black at the 13:09 mark, but MSU used an 11-3 run and took a 63-43 lead on a pair of free throws from Cassius Winston with 7:30 left.
Michigan State took its biggest lead, 81-58 (23 points) on a Langford 3-pointer with 1:35 left in the game.
The cushion allowed Head Coach Tom Izzo to put his three seniors - Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Jr., Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling - in and out of the game in the final minutes, giving each of them an opportunity to kiss the school's logo at midcourt and get an ovation from the crowd.
The Spartans went into the half with a 38-35 lead, with the Illini using a late 6-1 burst to pull within three points after free throws from Kenny Goins with 1:51 to play had given MSU a 37-30 lead.
MSU hit its first four 3-pointers and took an early 12-8 lead and took its biggest lead, 19-11, on free throws from Miles Bridges with 12:54 left and at 21-13 with 10:28 left on a Winston jumper.
Illinois used an 8-0 run to tie the game at 21-all on a free throw from Mark Smith 8:08 to play, but the Spartans would use a 7-0 run to take a 28-21 lead on free throws from Nick Ward with 7:06 left ... The lead was still seven points, 37-30, after the free throws from Goins, but Illinois made a late run and pulled to within three, 38-35, on a layup from Greg Eboigbodin with eight seconds left.
Michigan State outscored Illinois, 43-26, in the second half.
The Spartans handed out 20 assists on 24 made field goals.
MSU had 14 second-chance points and scored 24 points in the paint.
MSU connected on 84.6 percent of its free throws (22-of-26).
After hitting 54.5 percent of their first half 3-pointers, Illinois was limited to none in the second half.
MSU held Illinois to 27.3 percent shooting.
After committing seven turnovers in the first half, MSU had only one in the second half.
Michigan State's 27-3 record is the best start in program history.
The 27 wins by the Spartans are the most in a regular season under head coach Tom Izzo.
MSU's 11-game win streak is tied for the longest in the country with Grambling.
Head coach Tom Izzo has led MSU to eight Big Ten Regular Season Championships.
Michigan State started three seniors - Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Jr., Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling
MSU's 84.6 percent free throw shooting (22-of-26) ties the team season high, set earlier this year against Long Beach State (Dec. 21).
Michigan State received 42 points from bench, a season high.
MSU out-rebounded Illinois, 40-28, and had 10 players collect at least two boards apiece.
Michigan State handed out 20 assists, the 15th time this season the team had at least 20.
Miles Bridges scored in double figures for the 25th time this season and the 49th time in his career.
Cassius Winston scored in double figures for the 24th time this season and the 30th time in his career.
Joshua Langford tied his season and career high with five assists ... It was the 18th game this season for Langford in double figures.
Freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. blocked five shots, his 13th game with at least four blocks. Michigan State blocked 11 shots as a team, the ninth time this season with at least 10 rejections.
Michigan State closes out the regular season on Sunday, Feb. 25, visiting Wisconsin. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. The game will air on CBS, with Kevin Harland and Bill Raftery calling all of the action.