CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Trent Frazier scored a game-high 16 points, and No. 24 Illinois held on to beat No. 10 Michigan State 56-55 on Tuesday and take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
Illinois (14-5, 7-2) was without two of its brightest stars: All-American center Kofi Cockburn (concussion) and guard Andre Curbelo (COVID-19 health and safety protocols).
The Illini led by as many as 15 points early in the second half before Michigan State (15-4, 6-2) mounted a furious comeback in the final four minutes.
Down by two, the Spartans had a chance to tie the game with less than a second left after Coleman Hawkins fouled Malik Hall as Hall drove to the basket. He missed the first free throw and made the second, then time expired.
Alfonso Plummer added 11 points for Illinois and Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk had 8 points filling in at center for Cockburn.
Marcus Bingham Jr. had 13 points to lead the Spartans, while Gabe Brown had 10 and Tyson Walker added 9.
Illinois dominated the first half by going on two runs, 13-7 and 7-0, primarily on Frazier’s perimeter shooting. The Illini also scored 15 points off of nine Michigan State turnovers and led 34-20 at the half.
This was a huge game for both teams, and the win was doubly sweet for a depleted Illini squad that had lost back-to-back games in Cockburn’s absence. Michigan State was outplayed for most of the game, although the Spartans made it interesting in the final few minutes.
Expect Illinois to move up a couple of spots, while Michigan State will likely drop a spot or two,
Michigan State: Hosts Michigan on Saturday.
Illinois: Travels to Northwestern on Saturday.