No. 2 Michigan St tops Illinois 81-61, seals share of title
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ Miles Bridges scored 19 points, Joshua Langford had 16 and No. 2 Michigan State beat Illinois 81-61 on Tuesday night, sealing a share of the Big Ten championship.
The Spartans (27-3, 15-2 Big Ten) have won 11 straight and can claim the conference title outright if they win at Wisconsin on Sunday.
The Fighting Illini (13-16, 3-13) were coming off a win over Nebraska and looked like they were building momentum, competing well enough to trail the Spartans by just three points at halftime.
Michigan State, though, opened the second half with a 12-1 run to take control and went on to build 20-plus-point leads. The cushion allowed coach Tom Izzo to put his three seniors in and out of the game in the final minutes, giving each of them an opportunity to kiss the school’s logo at midcourt and get an ovation from the crowd.
Cassius Winston scored 12 points, Jaren Jackson had eight points and five blocks and Kenny Goins added a season-high nine points.
Illinois’ Leron Black had 20 points and Trent Frazier scored 14 on 4-of-13 shooting.
Illinois: The young team has experienced of growing pains that may serve the program well next season when it returns almost every player on the roster.
Michigan State: Despite clinching a share of the conference championship, the Spartans have a lot to play for with an outright title at stake against the Badgers and a chance to improve their seeding for the NCAA Tournament.
Izzo started Tum Tum Nairn, Gavin Schlling and Ben Carter in place of Winston, Jackson and Nick Ward, who finished with eight points and seven rebounds in just 15 minutes.
Illinois: Wraps up the regular season at home against Purdue on Thursday night and Sunday at Rutgers, where the Illini will have their last chance to win a road game this season.
Michigan State: At Wisconsin on Sunday.