Illini Outmuscle Spartans For Signature 75-66 Win

By IlliniGuys Staff

January 13, 2023

(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Dain Dainja scored 20 points and the Illinois defense locked down another opponent late in the game as they rallied to beat Michigan State 75-66 in Big Ten play Friday night.

It's the third win in a row for Illinois (12-5, 3-3) after struggling in December and starting the year with a stunning loss at Northwestern nine days ago.

The Spartans (12-5, 4-2) came in on a seven-game win streak, but found themselves trying to catch Illini star Terrence Shannon Jr. in the opening minutes.  The Texas Tech transfer, who averaged 24.5 points per game in the Illini's back-to-back wins over Wisconsin and Nebraska, scored 15 of Illinois' 19 points in the first 9 1/2 minutes of the game.  But Michigan State put him in check and took control to enjoy a 37-33 lead at halftime.

The visitors built that lead as high as nine points at 50-41 when Illinois began to chip away.  Matthew Mayer scored 10 points and Dainja and Coleman Hawkins four each to spark an 18-4 run that gave the Illini a 59-54 lead.

Michigan State fought back to tie the game at 60 with 5:47 left to go, but managed only two field goals the rest of the game as Illinois closed on a 15-6 run.

Mayer finished with 19 points and a career-high six blocked shots and Shannon scored 16 for Illinois, which held the Spartans without a three-point basket (0-7).  A.J. Hoggard led Michigan State with 20 points.

The Illini will travel to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers on Monday (5pm, BTN).

Stay with IlliniGuys.com for complete coverage of the Illini victory.

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