Cockburn leads No. 12 Illinois past slumping No. 19 Spartans
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Kofi Cockburn scored 27 points, Jacob Grandison had a season-high 24 and No. 12 Illinois held off No. 19 Michigan State 79-74 on Saturday.
Illinois (19-7, 12-4 Big Ten) moved ahead of No. 15 Wisconsin and into a first-place tie with No. 5 Purdue in the conference standings.
“That went about how I thought it would,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “I loved the fight and the grit, and that what I thought it took today.”
Tyson Walker scored a season-high 26 points and A.J. Hoggard had 15 for the Spartans (18-9, 9-6), who never led and trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half. Michigan State has lost four of five.
“I didn’t think we competed in the first half,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “In the second half, we scored 52 points against the best defensive team in the league. I don’t like saying we’ll learn from a loss, but I think we’ll learn from this. I think we competed harder (in the second half), but we couldn’t get over that 10-point stretch.”
The Spartans rallied down the stretch, cutting the lead to two points several times in the final two minutes, before Trent Frazier made a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to put the game out of reach. Frazier finished with 12 points.
“He went about 13 seconds too early,” Underwood said. “The play was an option for him and Kofi, and he just went early.”
Michigan State shot 31% from the floor in the first half and trailed 34-22 at the break but heated up after halftime, finishing the game at 46.8% shooting to Illinois’ 45%.
Underwood defeated Izzo’s Spartans in East Lansing for the first time.
“It’s a box checked off,” Underwood said. “And it so happens that it keeps us in first.”
Cockburn scored in double figures for the 36th straight game, the third-longest such streak in the nation.
Illinois: The Illini had lost two of their previous three games, falling at Rutgers and at Purdue. Three of their final four regular-season games are at home as they chase a Big Ten title.
Michigan State: The Spartans could fall out of the AP Top 25 after going 0-2 this week.
Illinois: Hosts No. 18 Ohio State on Thursday.
Michigan State: At Iowa on Tuesday.
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