Published March 01, 2014
East Lansing, MI – East Lansing, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Tracy Abrams tallied 12 points and five steals as Illinois went into Breslin Center and shocked 18th-ranked Michigan State, 53-46, in Saturday's Big Ten clash.
Rayvonte Rice and Malcolm Hill scored 10 points apiece, with Rice also finishing with five steals as Illinois (17-12, 6-10 Big Ten) won its third straight tilt.
"I'm really proud of our guys," said Illinois head coach John Groce. "That's the fourth game in a row that we've held an opponent under 50 points. That's hard to do in this league with the great coaches and great teams."
The loss spoiled Gary Harris' 19-point effort and the return of forward Branden Dawson, who missed the last nine games with a broken right hand. Dawson came off the bench and scored six points with six rebounds.
"This team has been through a lot, but I didn't see this coming," said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. "I'm disappointed in our effort, not disappointed in our performance as far as our skills go."
Michigan State (22-7, 11-5) has now lost consecutive games for the first time this season.
The visiting Illini landed the first blow, jumping out to a 19-7 lead after Rice's steal and jam sparked a 9-0 run.
Illinois went scoreless for more than five minutes later in the half, allowing the Spartans to claw their way back. Denzel Valentine and Harris hit triples to key an 11-2 surge, which Abrams finally ended with his 3-ball at 3:44. MSU scored the final six points of the half to tie it at 28-apiece heading into the locker rooms.
A 3-pointer by Rice 4:34 into the second half capped a 12-4 run for the Illini. Harris' trey near the midpoint cut the score to 42-39, but Hill's 3 kept the Spartans at arm's length.
Jon Ekey's straightaway 3 made it 50-43 with 3:43 to play, and the Spartans mustered just a Harris triple down the stretch, missing two field goals and three free throws in the last minute and a half.
Illinois scored 25 points off of 16 MSU turnovers ... Michigan State outscored the Illini 24-20 in the paint ... Illinois will look to win its fourth straight when it hosts Big Ten-leading Michigan on Tuesday.