Michigan State was riding a hot streak until a shocking and disappointing road loss to Minnesota. Looking for a rebound on Saturday, the Spartans found one late against No. 10 Illinois.

Entering the weekend, Brad Underwood’s Illini were hoping to keep pace with Big Ten leader Purdue. On the other side, Tom Izzo’s program still needs some signature wins to solidify a spot in the NCAA Tournament down the road.

The two sides did not disappoint with what turned out to be a gem in East Lansing. In the second half, Illinois built an 8-point lead at 72-64 on a Marcus Domask 3-pointer with 7:38 to go. Michigan State did not wilt, battling back to tie things at 72-all.

The game stood locked at that score inside 3 minutes when things started to heat up. Malik Hall would convert a pair of and-1’s for the Spartans with his second giving the Spartans a 78-76 lead with 2:14 to play:

The rest of the game was all Spartans with Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard stretching the lead with some key steals. Overall, Michigan State outscored Illinois 16-8 over the final 3 minutes of the game for the crucial 88-80 upset.

Key performers

Hall was highly efficient and delivered 22 points for the Spartans on 7-for-9 shooting from the floor with 5 rebounds. Hoggard led Michigan State with 23 points and converted 12-of-13 tries from the free-throw line while Tyson Walker added 19 points.

Off the bench, the Spartans received some big minutes from Carson Cooper and Jaxon Kohler. Those two combined for 7 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists while also guarding the versatile big men of Illinois.

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The Illini were once again led by Terrence Shannon Jr. with 28 points. Coleman Hawkins added 14 points but was just 5-for-12 from the floor, and 3-point shooting was an issue for the Illinois duo. The Illini finished 11-for-30 from 3-point range, but Shannon and Hawkins combined to go just 4-for-16 from deep in the loss.

Impact on B1G standings

If not for the loss to Minnesota, Michigan State would be right behind Illinois and in the mix for the regular season title should Purdue stumble. With the loss by the Illini, the Boilermakers now have a 2-game cushion atop the conference and are likely to wrap up another regular-season title barring disaster.

Behind the Boilermakers, seeding for the B1G Tournament is fully up for grabs. Right now, the top 4 seeds and double byes would belong to Purdue, Illinois, Wisconsin and Northwestern. However, the Badgers have hit a disastrous losing streak that is currently at 4 games after a 20-point loss to Rutgers on Saturday.

Behind the top-4 teams, Minnesota and Michigan State are just half a game behind Northwestern in the standings. We’ll see how the final month of action plays out, but there is still a ways to go before the B1G is decided.