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Michigan State basketball uses late rally to beat top ten Illinois

Michigan State basketball leaned on its seniors to complete a second-half comeback and earn a much-needed victory over top-10 foe Illinois on Saturday afternoon.

Michigan State rallied in the final eight minutes of the game to overcome an eight-point deficit and top Illinois, 88-80, at the Breslin Center. The Spartans were led by strong performances from its three senior leaders who combined for 66 points in the win.

The first half was back-and-forth with both teams going on significant runs. Illinois used a 14-3 run to build a seven-point lead but Michigan State would respond with a 10-0 run of its own to regain the lead before the break. The Spartans led 44-41 at halftime.

The second half mirrored the opening frame with the game remaining tight deep into the second half. However, Illinois used a 12-2 run to build its biggest lead of the game and hold a 72-64 advantage with 7:58 to go in the game. However, from there Michigan State responded by outscoring the Fighting Illini 24-to-8 to end the game and earn the victory.

Michigan State was led in scoring by AJ Hoggard with 23 points but Malik Hall (22 points) and Tyson Walker (19 points) were right behind him. Michigan State also got 10 points from Jaden Akins in the victory.

With the win, Michigan State improves to 15-9 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play. This is a massive victory for the Spartans in their effort to return to the NCAA Tournament and extend their impressive tournament streak.

Michigan State will be back on the floor on Wednesday in a road game at Penn State. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on Big Ten Network.

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Story originally appeared on Spartans Wire