Michigan St. 63, Illinois 57
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Drew Neitzel scored 19 points and made a key jumper in the final minute to lift Michigan State to a 63-57 win over Illinois on Sunday.
The Spartans (15-4, 2-2 Big Ten) have won two straight after dropping their first two conference games on the road. Michigan State’s Goran Suton had 15 points and Raymar Morgan scored 10.
The Fighting Illini (13-6, 1-3) were led by Rich McBride, who scored 12 points and helped them lead by as much as 14 in the first half with a trio of 3-pointers during a key run. Illinois Warren Carter had 11 points and Shaun Pruitt added 10.
Michigan State, which trailed 34-23 at halftime, scored 15 unanswered points to take a 51-39 lead with 7:34 to go.
The Illini rallied to pull within three points, then after a time-out with 52.3 seconds left Neitzel made a shot from the left wing just before the shot clock expired to seal the victory.
Michigan State came back in the second half with aggressive defense that led to turnovers and easier baskets at the other end.
The Spartans improved to 13-0 at home and earned their biggest win during a rebuilding season in which they hope to earn an NCAA tournament bid for the 10th straight year.
The Illini, a traditional Big Ten power that is also regrouping form key losses, started so strong it looked like they might pick up a quality win that could help extend their streak of playing in the NCAAs.
Illinois scored the first seven points before falling behind 14-13.
The Illini then went on a 17-4 run—sparked by McBride’s three 3-pointers in about a minute—and held Michigan State to just two field goals over the final 12 minutes of the half.