Halftime: MSU gets out in front of Illinois, 47-22
No. 5 MSU leads Illinois 47-22 at halftime.
The Spartans were led by senior gurad Byrn Forbes with 10 points and freshmen guard Matt McQuaid with eight points and three assists.
With injuries aplenty for Illinois, they knew they would have to rely heavily on their two primary players in juniors Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill who average 18.5 and 17.9 points per game respectively. So when it was announced shortly before game time that Nunn would not be playing because of the birth of his child back in Illinois, and Hill picked up two fouls in the first two-and-a-half minutes of play, MSU knew they could exploit the young Illinois team.
MSU went on an 8-2 run after Hill went out over the next two minutes including back-to-back threes by junior Eron Harris and McQuaid to extend their lead to 16-7, prompting Illinois head coach John Groce to call a timeout and put Hill back into the game even with two fouls.
WIll their leader Hill back in the game Illinois went on a 6-0 run to cut the MSU lead down to 16-13 before McQuaid made a three to extend the lead to 19-13 and spark a 23-5 MSU run to take firm control of the game at 39-18.
MSU attacked the paint early on with Illinois missing their starting center transfer senior Mike Thorne Jr., scoring their first six points in the paint and grabbing two offensive rebounds in the first minute-and-a-half of play. MSU finished the half with 26 points in the paint and outrebounded the undermanned Illinois team 22 to 12.
MSU shot a blistering 61.3 percent in the first half including 50 percent from three and continued their great passing with 16 assists on 19 made baskets.
Meanwhile, the MSU defense held Illinois to only 25.9 percent shooting in the first half, including an abysmal 12.5 percent from three, and held Hill to only two first half points.