Illinois blasts Spartans, 70-40

The No. 20 Illini (17-5 overall, 7-4 Big Ten) enjoyed a 37-17 halftime lead and led by as many as 39 points late in the second half to help make a case for a possible conference title run. The 30-point deficit is the second worst loss in MSU head coach Tom Izzo's eight-year career

Illinois almost didn't have to show up for the second half en route to a 70-40 spanking of the Spartans at Assembly Hall.

The No. 20 Illini (17-5 overall, 7-4 Big Ten) enjoyed a 37-17 halftime lead and led by as many as 39 points late in the second half to help make a case for a possible conference title run.

The Spartans (14-10, 6-6) on the other hand could not get anything going and managed to turn the ball over as many times as the number of field goals they connected on (17).

The 30-point deficit is the second worst loss in MSU head coach Tom Izzo's eight-year career, the worst being an 83-47 loss to Iowa in 1995.

Not only that, but the 40 points marks the Spartans lowest output in 10 years, when MSU managed just 39 points in a loss to Illinois.

What made the outcome even more bewildering is that the Big Ten's leading scorer was not a factor.

Brian Cook scored just 4 points in 15 minutes, but every other Illini contributed in some way or another.

Freshman Dee Brown put together an eye-popping stat line: 24 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals to lead the Illini. Fellow freshman Deron Williams was the next highest scorer for Illinois pouring 12 points.

Sophomore guard Chris Hill led the Spartans with 12 points

MSU twice had stretches of nine minutes or more in which they need did not score a single point. The Spartans also managed a six minute-plus drought, which meant 62 percent of the game they were not scoring.

MSU got off to a quick 8-2 lead before Illinois took control and ran wild over the Spartans. The Illini answered with an 18-0 in the first half and then used another 10-0 run in the last four and a half minutes to make it a 20-point game at half.

Seven-two center Nick Smith received a full-length inbounds pass and converted on a 17-foot jump shot at the buzzer to cap off the first half.

The second half was more of the same, with the Spartans turning the ball over and failing to make a shot. MSU missed 22-of-32 shots in the second half, while the Illini scored another 33 points on three-point shots and uncontested lay-ups.

Illinois flat-out whipped the Spartans in almost every statistical category. They shot 55 percent from the field, managed 13 steals and outrebounded the best rebounding team in the Big Ten 35-32.

The Spartans finished the game shooting 32 percent from the field and connected on just 3-of-16 from behind the three-point arc.

MSU returns to action Sunday at home for a 2 p.m. game with Syracuse.


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