Big Three falter in loss to Illini

"I was disappointed by the performance of our upperclassmen tonight," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after the game. "Your stars have to play well and they didn't play very well tonight. We won't ever be good if our best players don't play well."

Tom Izzo couldn't help but be frustrated with his #7 Michigan State Spartans as they dropped their Big Ten opener to #6 Illinois 60-50.

"I was disappointed by the performance of our upperclassmen tonight," Izzo said after the game. "Your stars have to play well and they didn't play very well tonight. We won't ever be good if our best players don't play well," he added.

A bright side for the Spartans was Shannon Brown, who scored 17 points and knocked down three field goals from long range. Maurice Ager's 3-pointer late in the game was the only other long range shot made for the Spartans.

After Dee Brown hit a three-pointer to put the Illini up by 10 late in the first half, Shannon Brown single handedly brought the Spartans back within reach.

After an Illinois turnover, Brown knocked down a three-pointer to cut the lead to seven.

On the following Illini possession, official Ted Valentine called Illinois coach Bruce Weber for a technical foul for apparently being out of the coach's box on the sideline.

That sent Shannon to the charity stripe and with his two converted free-throws, he had cut the Illini lead in half, less than a minute after Dee Brown's crushing shot.

"Shannon Brown played as hard as he could play tonight," said Izzo. "I think some of our guys didn't play as hard." Paul Davis was the only other Spartan scoring in double-figures with 12 points along with nine rebounds.

Facing a very tight Illinois defense that had only given up around 56 points a game, the Spartans' leading scorer, Ager, was shut down for only nine points on the night.

"Maurice Ager just didn't have a good game," said Izzo. "I thought he had some shots he passed up and then he just started going too fast."

The Spartans came in averaging 83 points a contest but were contained by the Illinois defense all night.

Overall, Izzo felt like although his team could have been playing harder, they still played good defense and had a good chance to win if not for some acrobatic shots that dropped for the Fighting Illini, or more specifically Dee Brown.


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