Illini Bring The Fight To Sweep Season Series With Spartans

IlliniGuys Staff

February 19, 2022

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Kofi Cockburn scored 27 points and Jacob Grandison added a season-high 24 as #12 Illinois outpunched 19th ranked Michigan State 79-74 to get its first season sweep of the Spartans since 2006.

Three days after a loss at Rutgers in which they trailed the entire game for the first time all season, the Illini was never behind on the scoreboard in this one as Grandison was lights out in hitting a season-best five of seven from three-point range in the first half as Illinois (19-6, 12-4) built a 34-20 first half lead.

Michigan State (18-8, 9-6) climbed back into the game behind the hot-shooting of Tyson Walker, who scored 24 of his team-high 26 points in the second half.

But Cockburn was there to answer for Illinois.  The All-American and a finalist for every national player of the year award, the 7-foot junior was unstoppable.  Cockburn scored 19 of his points in the second half, including going 7-of-9 from the free throw line.  He also grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Illini, who won the battle on the boards 38-36.

Grandison had been in a slump, just 4-of-17 from outside the arc and a combined 20 points in his last four games.  But he hit a career-high tying 6-of-10 on his three-point attempts and finished just one shy of his single game career high of 25 points set in 2018 when he played at Holy Cross.

Trent Frazier finished with a quiet 12 points, but delivered the two biggest shots of the game for Illinois.  With the Spartans having rallied to within 74-71 and looking for a game-tying score, Andre Curbelo forced a steal inside the Michigan State paint and Frazier took it down for a fastbreak layup to extend the Illini advantage to 76-71.  Then after a Walker basket and free throw, Frazier delivered a three-pointer with 23 seconds left to give Illinois a five point lead on what turned out to be the game's final score.

The win puts Illinois back into a tie with Purdue atop the Big Ten standings. The Boilermakers host a streaking Rutgers team on Sunday.  The Scarlet Knights have won four straight vs. ranked opponents - including a 70-59 victory over Illinois on Wednesday - and have already beaten Purdue earlier this season at home.

Illinois returns home to host 16th ranked Ohio State in its lone meeting with the Buckeyes this season.  It's an 8pm tipoff Thursday night on BTN.

Stay with IlliniGuys for complete postgame coverage and analysis.

 

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