The Michigan State Spartans are back on the bubble after a 73-70 loss on Wednesday night to the Illinois Fighting Illini.
The Michigan State Spartans (18-12, 10-7) lost an important bubble game on Wednesday to the Illinois Fighting Illini (18-12, 8-9), 73-70, falling out of the top four in the Big Ten with only one game left before the Big Ten tournament.
Michigan State held a 21-15 lead midway through the first half, but an 18-3 run by the Illini over the next five-and-a-half minutes gave Illinois a 33-24 advantage and the Illini led 39-31 at halftime.
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The Spartans took the lead back with an 11-2 run to open the half, but Illinois launched a 15-2 run to lead 58-47 at the halfway point of the second half. Michigan State chipped away at the lead as the second half went on, trimming the deficit to 71-70 in the final minute.
Malcolm Hill split his free throws to increase the Illinois lead to two with 19 seconds left. Miles Bridges missed a two-pointer on the other end and Illinois’ Kipper Nichols made one of two free throws to put the Illini ahead by three with 3.4 seconds left. The Spartans tried one last play but Lourawls Nairn Jr.’s three-point attempt was no good and Illinois picked up a 73-70 win.
Bridges led Michigan State with a double-double, scoring 21 points and grabbing ten rebounds. Alvin Ellis III continued to shoot well, scoring 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including making three of six from beyond the arc. Nick Ward scored 11 points.
The Spartans shot well from the floor, making 48.1% of their field goal attempts (25/52), but struggled with turnovers once again, turning the ball over 15 times as a team. Only nine of Michigan State’s field goals were assisted.
Malcolm Hill led the Illini with 22 points. Leron Black scored 15, Maverick Morgan scored 14, and both had seven rebounds. Illinois shot 11/26 (42.3%) from beyond the arc and committed only seven turnovers.
Michigan State’s conference schedule wraps up on Saturday as they take on Maryland at 2:00 on the Big Ten Network.