Illinois Outworks Spartans

It would appear that Michigan State has decided to take the weekend off for the past six weeks.

The Spartans dropped another head scratcher Saturday afternoon 53-46 to the University of Illinois.

The Fighting Illini jumped out to a 17-7 lead in the first half thanks largely to the sloppy play of MSU. Michigan State had six turnovers in the first seven minutes of play.

“We’ve been a team that, for the most part, our assist-to-turnover ratio has been really good,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. “And today it was a joke.”

The Spartans limited their turnovers in the final 10 minutes of the first half to pull even at halftime.

Michigan State scored the first basket of the second half to grab their first and only lead of the game. From there, Illinois went on a 9-0 run.

MSU pulled within three a little past the halfway point of the second half and looked to have an opportunity to tie the game with a Gary Harris breakaway layup and foul. The play was blown dead by the officials as they called a shot clock violation before the steal.

The call seemed to spark the Illini and deflate the Spartans. Illinois never led by less than four 4 from that point and a Jon Ekey three-pointer with 3:43 left to play essentially sealed the win for the visitors.

“It started with the first shot of the game,” Izzo said. “We gave up another three.”

Harris carried the weight offensively for the Spartans. He scored 19 points, five rebounds and four steals. Gavin Schilling was the next leading scorer, tying his career high with seven points.

In his first game back from a broken hand, Branden Dawson reminded fans of what they had been missing. He only scored six points, but grabbed seven rebounds, four of which were off the offensive glass.

Adreian Payne looked sluggish from the start and only scored four points in 25 minutes of play.

“Adreian had no energy today,” Izzo said. “I don’t have a good answer.”

“I don’t think I was as active as I could have been,” Payne said. “It’s just a matter of me just trying to do what I have to do for the team.”

The Spartans will try to stop the skid on Thursday in the final home game of the season against the No. 20 Iowa Hawkeyes. Tip is scheduled for 9 p.m. EST.

Andrew Hayes is the host of Impact Izzone for Impact Sports.

Photo: Scott Wasserman/Impact Sports