MSU rallied to close out the game with a 10-3 run after finally overtaking Illinois, who had led ever since the 5:06 mark of the first half.
The Spartans dug a first half hole when they went nearly three minutes without scoring, committed a string of turnovers, and saw a questionable technical foul call on Coach Tom Izzo by referee Dave Maracich, who has called a "T" on Izzo in each of the last four Michigan State games he has called.
The Illini took advantage off those Spartans miscues to close out the half on a 20-10 run, despite being outrebounded by MSU 27-10. They were helped when MSU's top two scorers Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan went scoreless over the first half.
But the Spartans went into lock down defensive mode in the second half and appeared to grab momentum. But MSU was momentarily stunned when an Illinois jumper clanged off the basket as the shot clock expired. After huddling, the officials ruled referee Donnie Gray blew an "inadvertent whistle" and that the Illini should have the ball with one second left despite MSU grabbing the rebound.
When play resumed, former Detroit Country Day star Alex Legion, who led all Illini scorers with 15, caught the inbounds pass and nailed a three pointer that had the possibility of deflating the Spartans. But MSU's Goran Suton, who led MSU scorers with 12 points, answered with a three-pointer of his own as MSU seized momentum for good.
MSU finally took the lead back from the Illini on two Raymar Morgan free throws with 4:48 remaining at 55-54, before Legion's turnover with :33 left sealed the win for MSU.
Michigan State (15-2, 5-0 Big Ten) won their 27 straight at the Breslin Center and in the process continued their best conference start ever. They take four days off before hosting Northwestern (8-6, 0-4 Big Ten) at the Breslin Center next Wednesday.