Illinois’ performance last time out against Rutgers had some fans calling for a shakeup to the lineup and even Head Coach Brad Underwood vehemently voicing his displeasure with his team’s effort and energy.
But the Illini got a major contribution Saturday from Jacob Grandison in the form of 24 points on 6-of-10 shooting from deep that helped lead them past No. 19 Michigan State, 79-74, in East Lansing.
Underwood’s squad clearly received his message loud and clear. Illinois-Michigan State matchups are already known for being quite physical, and the Illini were the aggressor from the get-go.
They were aggressive on the boards on both ends of the floor. But more importantly, the defense came ready to play, limiting the Spartans to just 31% shooting from the field in the first half and only converting a quarter of their three-point attempts.
Illinois mounted a double-digit lead early on in the first period that it nursed much of the game. The Spartans cut their deficit to eight or nine points multiple times in the second period, but the Illini, specifically Grandison and Kofi Cockburn (27 points, 9 rebounds), always had an answer.
With just over two minutes to play, the Spartans cut the lead to two points with a 13-2 run. They hit eight shots in a row to make it a contest, but the Illini rolled with their punches. Trent Frazier hit just three shots on the day, but none was bigger than his dagger to push Illinois’ lead to five, as the Illini escaped, 79-74.
Ayo-like dagger @trentfrazier // @IlliniMBB pic.twitter.com/5pDdLeabDg— Illinois on BTN (@IllinoisOnBTN) February 19, 2022
- Jacob Grandison (ILL): 24 PTS, 6-10 3FG, 5 REB, 5 AST
- Kofi Cockburn (ILL): 27 PTS, 10-15 FG, 9 REB, 7-9 FT
- Tyson Walker (MSU): 26 PTS, 10-12 FG, 5 AST
- AJ Hoggard (MSU): 15 PTS, 4 REB, 8 AST
With Trent Frazier’s three to make the game 62-46, he has officially passed Dee Brown for No. 2 on the all-time threes list.— The Schmack Guy (@Ant_Pasquale3) February 19, 2022
Frazier and Cory Bradford (327) are the only players in #Illini history with 300 threes made.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
GIORGI #Illini | #EveryDayGuys pic.twitter.com/EKSh40a64B— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) February 19, 2022
Don’t want to meet Coleman at the rim.
Coleman Hawkins may never have a better block. @colehawk23 // @IlliniMBB pic.twitter.com/ZR4PEEfEIN— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 19, 2022
TWEET OF THE GAME
Presented without context.
Just got to East Lansing, first stop is the Pizza Hut. Can not confirm or deny there will be a fight in the parking lot but it does exist…not quite the same vibe as the McPherson, Kansas location @CoachUnderwood pic.twitter.com/blRUS50dqt— Bret Beherns (@WCIA3Bret) February 19, 2022
Illinois’ tough stretch continues on Thursday.
The Illini are in for another top-20 showdown when they host the Ohio State Buckeyes. It’s another game with significant Big Ten title implications.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CT on FS1.