Illinois earns another crucial victory
Illini top No. 9 Michigan State to down second top-10 foe of year
The Associated Press
Last Updated - January 31, 2012 11:51 GMT
Illinois made up for a poor-shooting night by playing stifling defense in a 42-41 win against No. 9 Michigan State on Tuesday.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Brandon Paul shook off a poor-shooting game to score 18 points, including two free throws with 45 seconds left that gave Illinois the lead in a 42-41 victory against No. 9 Michigan State on Tuesday night.
Paul had two chances to extend the lead for the Illini (16-6, 5-4 Big Ten) but he missed the front end of 1-and-1s with 26 seconds and 11 seconds to play.
Michigan Stateís Derrick Nix had a chance to tie the game at 42 with 14 seconds left but he made only one of two free throws. Keith Appling missed a driving shot with two seconds left, the final chance for the Spartans (17-5, 6-3).
Paul scored 13 of Illinoisí 20 second-half points, but was 6 of 17 from the field. He was 5 of 9 from the free throw line and the Illini finished 9 of 17.
After spending much of the game on the bench in foul trouble, Michigan Stateís Draymond Green left with just under four minutes to play with what appeared to be an injury to his left knee. He had to be helped off the court. Spartans coach Tom Izzo wasnít sure immediately after the game how seriously Green was injured.
He is the Spartansí leading scorer and rebounder but finished with just five points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes.
Green hit a key layup in a 9-0 run that gave the Spartans a 36-35 lead with 5:01 to play. But just over a minute later he was being helped form the court.
With 2:09 left and Michigan State up 40-37, Illinois freshman Tracy Abrams hit a 3-pointer to tie the game.
Branden Dawson had 12 points for the Spartans, who shot 24.1 percent (14 of 58), who could have moved into a tie for first in the Big Ten with Ohio State.
While their shooting was awful, the Spartans pulled down 49 rebounds, 23 on the offensive end.
In the first half, the Spartans had more rebounds (22) than points, and trailed 22-20 at halftime.
No. 1 Kentucky 69, Tennessee 44 Illinois 42, No. 9 Michigan State 41 No. 15 Marquette 66, Seton Hall 59 No. 16 Virginia 65, Clemson 61
Green spent the last 10:56 of the first half on the bench with three fouls, the last a technical when he complained about a foul call. The technical cost Green a sharp chewing-out by Izzo as he took his place on the bench.
All of which made it hard to figure why Illinois headed to the locker room with a narrow two-point lead.
The Illini were 9 of 25 from the field after 20 minutes and 3 of 7 from the free throw line.
The biggest shots for Illinois in the first half were arguably two putbacks by freshman Myke Henry.
The first, off a miss by D.J. Richardson, put Illinois up 18-16 with 5:43 left. The second came with 34 seconds left, off another miss by Richardson, and gave the Illini their halftime lead.