FINAL: No. 6 men's basketball holds off late push by Illinois
Men's basketball (17-3, 5-2 Big Ten) followed up its blowout of Indiana on Friday with an 87-74 victory over Illinois Monday night at State Farm Center, giving the team its second true road win on the season.
The Spartans duplicated their efficient shooting from their matchup against the Hoosiers. The team made 68 percent of their overall field goal attempts, and connected on 44 percent of their shots from deep.
MSU best displayed its red-hot shooting in the first half, as the team shot 75 percent from beyond the arc and better than 78 percent overall before the halftime.
MSU’s hot start was sparked by sophomore guard Miles Bridges, as the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year started the game perfect, making the team’s first two field goals and going 6-for-6 in the first half.
Bridges scored 17 points in the first half, including a pair of triples and a pair of dunks off lob passes from point guards Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn and Cassius Winston.
MSU took a seven-point lead into the halftime despite turning the ball over 15 times in the first half. The team averaged close 14 giveaways per game going in.
The second half was a continuation of the first period for the Spartans and for Bridges. The Flint, Michigan native put in 14 points in the second half on 5-of-7 shooting, finishing with a game-high 31 points.
MSU extended its lead on the Fighting illini to as many as 18 en route to the victory, and withstood a late run as Illinois cut the Spartans’ lead down to eight with 1:05 remaining.
With the victory MSU is now 2-1 on the road in conference play, with six of the team’s remaining 10 games being away from the Breslin Center.
Next up on the schedule for the Spartans is a matchup with Wisconsin (10-10, 3-4) on Friday. The Badgers, like MSU, are coming off a convincing road win over the Fighting Illini.