Balanced scoring leads No. 10 Illinois past Michigan State

Marcus Domask, Coleman Hawkins and Ty Rodgers each scored 15 points Thursday night and No. 10 Illinois held off Michigan State down the stretch for a 71-68 Big Ten Conference win in Champaign, Ill.

Domask, who added six rebounds and five assists, canned both ends of a one-and-one with 25.7 seconds left that gave the Fighting Illini (12-3, 3-1 Big Ten) a three-point advantage.

The Spartans (9-7, 1-4) had two chances to force overtime, but Tyson Walker and A.J. Hoggard each missed long 3-pointers in the final 15 seconds.

Quincy Guerrier and Justin Harmon added 10 points each for Illinois, which improved to 3-1 without leading scorer Terrence Shannon Jr., who was suspended prior to the Dec. 29 game against Fairleigh Dickinson after being charged with rape for an alleged incident in September.

Walker’s 17 points led four players in double figures for Michigan State. Hoggard added 16, while Malik Hall scored 14 points and Jaden Akins netted 13.

The Spartans outrebounded the Illini 37-34 and committed just seven turnovers, but the difference came at the foul line. Illinois connected on 18 of 22, including 10 of 13 in the second half, and Michigan State was just 5 of 7.

Michigan State was coming off an ugly performance in Sunday night’s 88-74 loss at Northwestern, and afterward, veteran coach Tom Izzo questioned his team’s toughness. The Spartans didn’t answer the bell right away, enduring a 4:15 drought without a field goal while Illinois established a 10-3 lead.

The Illini, who nearly beat No. 1 Purdue on Friday night in West Lafayette, Ind., before falling 83-78, then expanded the advantage to 10 on four occasions. The last came when Hawkins swished two free throws at the 8:07 mark for a 26-16 lead.

The margin was still nine after a Domask layup with 3:21 left when the Spartans finished the half with a surge. They rattled off eight straight points before Harmon hit two foul shots, making it 37-34 at intermission.