Michigan State basketball gets statement win vs. No. 12 Illinois 88-80

EAST LANSING — Malik Hall felt it slipping away again.

The Michigan State basketball forward missed a front-end free throw Saturday with 3:18 to play against Illinois, a reminder of his struggles at the foul line four days earlier in Minneapolis.

Seconds later, Hall collided with A.J. Hoggard going for a defensive rebound and the Illini recovered. Then after star Terrence Shannon Jr. drove around Hall and got fouled, the Spartans’ fifth-year senior tilted his head back and let out a few choice words of self-frustration.

Whatever words Hall uttered to himself cursed Illinois.

Hall scored finished through contact for a pair of three-point plays to give MSU the lead for good, and Tyson Walker and A.J. Hoggard made sure the Spartans finished a much-needed marquee victory, knocking off the 12th-ranked Illini, 88-80, at Breslin Center.

MSU (15-9, 7-6 Big Ten) has won 11 of 15, and recovered from blowing a nine-point, second-half lead Tuesday in a bitter 59-56 loss at Minnesota.

Michigan State's A.J. Hoggard celebrates after his 3-pointer against Illinois during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Hoggard led MSU with 23 points and went 12-for-13 at the free-throw line, including five in the last 1:39. The first two came after a steal and breakaway layup by Walker helped kickstart the Spartans’ late run.

“That’s what coach has been talking about, winning plays, that we’re gonna get some big stops,” said Walker who had 19 points — his 35th straight game scoring in double figures — and added two of MSU’s six steals. “So that was big for us to step up today. … We’re not trying to drop two in a row. We definitely thought we let one go at Minnesota, so it’s just trying to be better.”

First appeared on www.freep.com

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