EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State showed another flash of its potential, rallying to beat a top-10 team for the second time this season.
A.J. Hoggard had a lot to do with that.
“A.J. has been a guy that I've been on for four years,” coach Tom Izzo said. “You saw why. He played extremely well.”
He wasn’t alone.
Malik Hall had 22 points and Tyson Walker scored 19 for the Spartans, whose previous victory against a highly ranked team was two months ago in a 24-point win over then-No. 6 Baylor.
“We beat one of the most talented, best teams that we've played,” Izzo said. “What does that do for us? A lot.”
Michigan State (15-9, 7-6 Big Ten) came back from an eight-point deficit over the last six-plus minutes to earn the win and bounce back from a 59-56 loss to Minnesota earlier this week.
“I'm not sure I was ever as upset with my team as I was the other night,” Izzo said.
After missing free throws late in the loss against the Golden Gophers on Tuesday, the Spartans took advantage at the line with Hoggard making 12 of 13 and Hall connecting on 7 of 9 free throws.
“Give them all the credit,” coach Brad Underwood said. “They were obviously the aggressor. You're a passive, soft team when you're fouling."
Hoggard’s three-point play with 4:10 remaining made it 72-all, the 13th tie of the game. Shortly thereafter, Michigan State scored eight straight points to take control.
The Fighting Illini (17-6, 8-4) failed to keep a late lead for the second straight game.
“I felt like we had the game up eight,” Underwood said.
Illinois led Nebraska by 10 with 3:29 remaining on Sunday before needing to go to overtime to secure a win.
Terrance Shannon Jr. had 28 points for Illinois and Coleman Hawkins scored 14. Marcus Domask was held to 12 points — eight below what he was averaging in conference games.
Illinois: Losing leads late in games seems to be a problem for Underwood, but he doesn't seem concerned.
“We missed shots. Maybe that's it,” he said when asked if there were similarities in the late-game struggles.
Michigan State: Izzo's team may never get back to its preseason ranking of No. 4, but it is starting to play closer to its potential at the right time.
“It was the most complete game we’ve had,” Izzo said.
Hawkins was called for a technical for saying something to the crowd following a 3-pointer early in the first half. Michigan State's Jaden Akins drew a technical for taunting the Illini bench after making a 3-pointer with 49 seconds before halftime.
“They just told me it was a major point of emphasis,” Underwood said.
Izzo went toward Akins in anger after the technical and was held back by Hoggard.
“Jaden Akins has caused me less problems here than any player I've ever had," Izzo said. "He's one of the best students I got. He's probably in the gym more than anybody I've got.
“But when I have a huddle and say, `Look guys. They called one. They’re going to call anything the other way.' That's why, and those two points could've been very, very critical.”
Illinois earned a top-10 ranking in the first poll of February for the first time since 2006 and after its only game of the week, the team will likely fall in the AP Top 25.
Illinois: Hosts Michigan on Tuesday night.
Michigan State: Visits Penn State on Wednesday.
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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball