Michigan State falls on the road 73-70 here in Champaign to the Illini.

Michigan State falls on the road 73-70 here in Champaign to the Illini.

Michigan State falls on the road 73-70 here in Champaign to the Illini.

State Farm Center

Champaign, IL

The Michigan State Spartans came in to State Farm Center tonight on a roll and quickly got knocked down in a 73-70 loss to the Illini.  On the season Michigan State falls to 18-12 (10-7) and Illinois improves to 18-12 (8-9) after the contest.

Miles Bridges led the way for the Spartans with yet another double double.  He had 21 points and 10 boards.  Alvin Ellis III continued his solid play adding 15 points and Nick Ward was the last player to reach double digits with 11 points and added six rebounds.

Tom Izzo said of the contest that, “We made some plays defensively, but we just gave up shots.  That is not the focus you need to win on the road.  I was just disappointed.  I was worried on Sunday night, just didn’t think we had the focus there to guard the three and not turn the ball over.  Those were our two keys and give them credit they stuck it right in our tail.”

The Spartans continued their solid shooting from the free throw line.  They hit 80% tonight.  The difference was that the Spartans were sloppy.  Getting beat consistently by Illinois getting deep in the paint and careless handing of the ball doomed them along with some players literally checking out defensively and unable to guard anyone.

Illinois head coach Jim Groce added of the tilt, “Obviously from an effort standpoint it felt like a heavyweight boxing match.  I thought they were hitting on all cylinders coming in to this game and they set the tone for both halves, but we were able to fight back.”

Turnovers were the reason the Spartans lost.  They simply gave to many possessions away and the Illini converted those 15 turnovers into 18 points.

Izzo added of the turnovers, “It surprised me that Josh (Langford) had four in the first three minutes.  In the second half we did a helluva job coming back, and had almost no turnovers then four or five in a three minutes stretch.  That was the difference in the game.  A couple of bad shots, one ridiculous shot.  A ridiculous shot and I won’t mention who when you cut it to one or two.  You can’t do that and beat good teams on the road.  I am disappointed, I thought this time my staff did a helluva job and this time my players did find a way to bring that and we are going to find a way to bring it to Maryland.”

The Spartans return to action on Saturday night at 2 PM in the final regular season game of the year.  That game is against Maryland in Maryland and can be seen on BTN.

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