State Farm Center
The #6 Michigan State Spartan BasketballImproves to 17-3 (6-2) with a 87-74 win over Illinois tonight here in Champaign. The Spartans old demon turnovers plagued them again, but for the third time this season they had a game with 20+ turnovers (25 tonight) and they have won all three by double digits.
On the night the Spartans were on fire shooting 68.2%. That is a record for an Illini opponent in this building that has been in operation for 55 years. Miles Bridges led the way with 31 points and Jaren Jackson (3J) had a double double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. They were the only Spartans to score in double digits.
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said of the Spartans, “They are really good. I think this is a team that can make a huge run in the post season for two reasons. They have great size and great depth. Their speed and most nights Winston is going to play better than he did and they can make a run. They are a Final Four caliber team and they can make a deep run. If they were in any other conference they would be right where they are.”
MSU was a stellar 23 of 28 from the charity stripe and they owned the boards 37-15. MSU had nine blocks. But the play of the game tonight was Jaren Jackson showing his amazing athleticism. Three times he drove from long distance and had great athletic moves at the rim to score. One went coast to coast.
Tom Izzo said of Jackson’s play, “Jaren Jackson had play after play. Jaren was unbelievable and they get got tired. He was scoring and blocking and playing the most minutes he ever played here. He showed me some things that I didn’t think he could do. Driving coast to coast and the left hand. Putting the ball on the floor as a 6’11” post man when they pressured it, was impressive. He is playing better and better every day.”
The Spartans had a 50-32 advantage with their points in the paint. MSU also had a 15-4 lead with second chance points. On the night the Spartans had 15 assists on 30 baskets.
Izzo added of the contest, “That was a war. Most turnovers in a decade and best shooting percentage ever. I got to say hats off to my guys. We took that licking early and we got some back door things. Bridges was a man. On Winston’s first four turnovers that was the bigs fault. They didn’t come up and it made him look bad. Tough game for Nick Ward the way they pressured our guards we couldn’t get the ball into him. It was a total team win because we got a lot of different guys that helped us. But the mistakes we made, it was unbelievable pressure from them.”
The Spartan defense was sensational. They held a tough Illinois team to 29% shooting. Illinois had a 23-13 advantage with points off of turnovers. MSU also had a 28-6 advantage with the defensive rebounds
The Spartans return to action on Friday night back at the friendly confines of the Breslin Center. They will be playing host to the Wisconsin Badgers. That game tips off at 8 PM and can be seen on FS1.
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