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Cockburn, Grandison’s season-high leads Illinois past Michigan State

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Leaving East Lansing victorious for the first time in 7 years.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Michigan State Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

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.

STAT STUFFERS

  • 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

SOUND SMART

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

Amazing!

Don’t want to meet Coleman at the rim.

TWEET OF THE GAME

Presented without context.

WHO’S NEXT

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.