Spartans assure themselves share of Big 10 crown

Michigan coach John Beilein recognizes the challenge ahead as his team will take on a Penn State team eager to earn a NCAA bid

Spartans assure themselves share of Big 10 crown

On Senior Night with potentially two underclassmen - Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. - playing their final game at Michigan State, the Spartans were able to throttle IL, 81-61, and clinch the conference crown.

Langford finished with 16 points and sophomore Cassius Winston added 12 points for the Spartans, who shot 47.1 percent from the field (24 of 51), outrebounded IL 40-28 and had only one turnover in the second half. MI is coming off a big win over Ohio State at home, but the Wolverines are 5-4 ATS on the road. Historically, the Big Ten has been able to deliver the fewest one-day preps of any other conference.

Over on the Michigan State side, they're now 26-3 this season. The latter was a three-point defeat Sunday in which Tony Carr led the Nittany Lions with 19 points. Kipper Nichols, who had 27 against MSU in the first time out, is third on the team with 9.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

After a heartbreaking, three-point road loss to Purdue, the Nittany Lions will be back on the court Wednesday night in search of another quality win for their NCAA Tournament resume. Saul Phiri had 16 points for the Explorers (11-17, 5-10). "I think they're really capable of winning the whole thing".

The Fighting Illini played a good first half, making 6 of 11 from 3-point range, forcing seven Michigan State turnovers and only trailing by three at halftime, 38-35. That included two for Bridges and once each for Langford and Jackson.

Abdur-Rahkman, an Allentown, Pennsylvania native and former Penn State recruiting target, leads the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio while chipping in nearly 12 points a contest. They answered with their own 7-0 run that included a 3-pointer from Frazier, one of their six in the half. He scores 19.6 points per game and shoots 46 percent from 3-point range and averages 2.4 3-point field goals per game. The Rams purposely fouled Pookie Powell, who made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second. They blew a 55-42 advantage at the under-12:00 timeout and lost 72-69.

The Spartans kept the pressure on, taking a 61-43 lead with 8:10 remaining on a 3-pointer by junior Kenny Goins.

The Spartans wrap up the regular season Sunday at Wisconsin.

Michigan State won the first meeting between the teams, 71-62, in January. The Badgers (12-16, 5-10) play at Northwestern on Thursday and are coming off an overtime 73-63 comeback against Minnesota on Monday at Kohl Center.

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