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Michigan State overpowers Illinois after close first half

The Illini fell to the Spartans, 81-61.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

The Michigan State Spartans, thanks to a dominant second half performance, took down the Illinois Fighting Illini, 81-61, on senior night.

Miles Bridges finished with 19 points and Joshua Langford wasn’t far behind with 16 points.

Leron Black led all scorers with 20 points and Trent Frazier was the next closest Illini with 14 points of his own.

Bridges and the Spartans came out hot right out of the gate, going 4-of-4 from beyond the arc to start the game.

It only took six minutes for Leron Black to pick up his second foul in the first half. As soon as he exited the game, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run to jump out to a 19-11 lead.

Finishing at the rim became an issue for Illinois early on as it missed five of its early attempts at the rim.

Mark Alstork had a strong presence early, getting eight quick points after he ripped Bridges at halfcourt and scored on a breakaway layup.

Mark Smith split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 21 and cap off an 8-0 Illini run.

The battle continued for the team in orange and blue, never letting the Spartans pull away in the first half.

Michigan State possessed a 37-30 lead with under two minutes remaining in the frame and looking to stretch the lead to double-digits heading into the break.

But Frazier nailed a pull-up three the following possession, and then he dropped a nice dime to Greg Eboigbodin on the ensuing one to make it a quick 5-1 swing, and only a 38-35 halftime lead for the Spartans.

Frazier had nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from deep to lead all Illini scorers at half. Bridges, however, led all scorers with 11 points.

Black had a solid half with seven points despite getting into foul trouble early on.

Like the teams’ first meeting this season, Illinois’ ball pressure was giving Michigan State fits. The defense forced seven first-half turnovers and harassed the Spartans’ guards.

The Spartans were done chewing their food once the second half commenced, going on a 9-0 run out of the break. The Illini also got themselves into severe foul trouble coming into the second frame.

Michigan State got into the bonus with 16:45 remaining in the game. Nichols, Black and Eboigbodin all had three fouls apiece at the time.

The first field goal of the half for Illinois didn’t come until the 14-minute mark. Te’Jon Lucas went coast-to-coast to get the first bucket. By this time, Michigan State held a 52-38 lead.

The game only got more out of hand from there as the Spartans offense took over. Back-to-back dunks and a three ball from Kenny Goins stretched the lead to 61-43 with 7:30 remaining in the game.

Michigan State had outscored Illinois 23-8 at this point of the game.

The lead reached over 20 points thanks to Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman turning it on in the later stages of the half.

Winston caught fire from beyond-the-arc, hitting back-to-back threes. One of these threes came after a dirty stepback jumper that shook off Frazier.

Tillman added another three points the ole fashioned way after finished a layup and-one. This propelled the Spartans to a 72-51 lead and essentially put the game out of hand.

The Illini had nothing left in the tank to stop this small Spartan run and went down quietly.

The schedule will be showing no remorse for Illinois. The Illini host No. 9 Purdue in the final home game of the regular season Thursday night.