No. 25 Spartans Fall To No. 10 Illini
March 4, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Dee Brown scored 16 of his 20 points after halftime and made two 3-pointers during a 12-0 run midway through the second half to lift No. 10 Illinois to a 75-68 victory over No. 25 Michigan State on Saturday.
The Illini (25-5, 11-5 Big Ten) closed the regular season with five wins in six games and will share the conference title if last-place Purdue upsets Ohio State on the road Sunday.
The Spartans (20-10, 8-8) lost five of their last seven, crumbling down the stretch in a season that started with them ranked fourth in the country and as favorites to win the Big Ten. Michigan State's Paul Davis had 21 points and 14 rebounds, Shannon Brown scored 20 and Maurice Ager added 15 points.
The Big Ten tournament starts Thursday.
Brown broke a 48-all tie with a 3-pointer with more than 12 minutes left. Teammate Jamar Smith followed with a pair of shots beyond the arc and Brown closed the decisive run with another 3-pointer.
The Spartans pulled within six points with four-plus minutes to go and again with 2:09 left, but gave up baskets to James Augustine on the ensuing possessions each time.
Michigan State's top three players were solid, but they didn't get much help with the rest of the team combining for just 12 points.
The Spartans, already reeling in the frontcourt without power forward Matt Trannon because of a broken jaw, missed power forward Marquise Gray, who injured his right foot in the previous victory over Wisconsin.
Michigan State led 35-34 at halftime. Smith's jumper at the end of the half was ruled good on the court and initially by the officials after a video review. The officials came back onto the court midway through halftime to get another look at the play, and they decided to overturn their decision.
The Spartans ended up losing for just the second time at home this season. Since the 1998-99 season they are 111-9 at the Breslin Center.
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