Let Us Never Speak Of This Again: Illini Victorious Over Top Ten Spartans
At the end of the day, Illinois beat a top ten Michigan State team at home, ended a three game losing streak, and moved back above .500 in the Big Ten. All of that is great. But frankly, aside from the result, there was very little good about the win tonight.
Fact is Illinois played terribly for very long stretches. Brandon Paul missed two crucial free throws in the final minute that could have iced the game, DJ Richardson made his first three, but missed every one there after, Meyers Leonard had some great blocks, but ended up with just 4 points and 6 boards. MSU had EIGHTEEN offensive rebounds. Joe Bertrand had no points at all, and the offense with Sam Maniscalco at point was unable to produce much of anything.
And yet, Michigan State played way worse. Their star player Draymond Green barely played with consecutive problems of having the flu, getting a technical/foul trouble, and messing his knee up in the final five minutes. Derrick Nix was 1-7, with all of those misses coming from about point blank range.The Spartans had more turnovers, (15) than they had made baskets (14).
The bright spot seems to be the defense, and I will hand the Illini that, Michigan State didn't shoot so poorly without the defense having some effect.
Fact is, Illinois was very close to losing this game, and the way they played most of the game, it is a surprise that they did. But to be fair, they played well enough to beat Penn State, and played more than well enough to beat Minnesots, but they still lost those anyway. Things broke the Illini's way in the final moments of this game, with Nix missing a free throw and Kieth Appling missing his last shot, and they were certainly do for some good breaks.
It is a game where the team didn't play well and they won, and personally I will take those over a hard fought loss, because a win is still a win, as Akon reminds us.
All of that said, this win, no matter how it was achieved, is huge. Another top 10 win, and a complete crisis averted. It is a win that helps dramatically in the quest to keep off of the bubble, and keeps Illinois alive at least for a decent seed in the Big Ten Tournament, and one game closer to 20 wins.
There is a lot that needs to be cleaned up before Sunday's game against Northwestern, but I am much happier that it is done after a win than a loss.
Now let us never speak of this again.
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