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No. 4 Michigan State cruises past Illinois
Champaign, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Gary Harris scored 23 points to lead fourth-ranked Michigan State to a 78-62 win over Illinois.
Denzel Valentine contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Keith Appling also scored 15, as the Spartans (17-1, 6-0 Big Ten) won their 10th straight contest since a Dec. 4 loss to North Carolina.
Tracy Abrams had 15 points to pace the Fighting Illini (13-6, 2-4), who have dropped four in a row. Jon Ekey and Rayvonte Rice each had 12 points in defeat.
"I thought we made our fair share of mistakes on the defensive end," Illinois coach John Groce said.
Rice's jumper had the hosts within 24-22 with 4:13 left in the opening half, but the Spartans ran off the next seven points, finished by Branden Dawson's tip-in. Harris hit a jumper in the final minute to widen the gap to 35-25 at the break.
Ekey drained a 3-pointer to start the second half, but the Spartans again gained control and moved ahead by a 43-30 margin on Alex Gauna's jumper.
Adams made two free throws for a 59-53 contest with 6:09 left, but Appling responded with a 3-pointer with under six minutes left. Illinois didn't get closer than nine the rest of the way.
Illinois fell to 9-2 at home ... Michigan State coach Tom Izzo moved past Illinois legend Lou Henson for sole possession of fourth place on the Big Ten career victories list with 215 wins ... Michigan State has won eight of the last 11 meetings.
01/19 00:57:40 ET
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