EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Malcolm Hill scored 19 points and Illinois withstood a last-minute technical foul to beat Michigan State 59-54 on Saturday afternoon.
Kendrick Nunn added 14 points and Nnanna Egwu had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Fighting Illini (16-8, 6-5 Big Ten), winners of three straight games.
Denzel Valentine had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Spartans (15-8, 6-4) but fouled out after missing a 6-foot shot that would have given his team a 56-55 lead.
After the Fighting Illini were called for a technical, Michigan State got just two points from four free throws and Valentine missed his shot on the same possession.
The Spartans finished 7 of 18 at the line, showing why they entered the game 14th in the conference in free throws and 321st in the nation.
Illinois was 12 of 16 at the line and shot 41 percent from the field to the Spartans’ 38.5 percent. Michigan State didn’t reach 40 percent in any category.
The score was tied at 39 when two free throws from Nunn, a putback by Egwu and a 3-pointer by Ahmad Starks gave the Illini a seven-point lead.
But after a Starks steal, Travis Trice came from behind to block a layup, setting up Branden Dawson’s basket at the other end. That switched the momentum, and two 3-pointers from Valentine helped cut the deficit to 49-47.
When Valentine missed an open 15-footer to tie and Dawson failed on a tip-in, Illinois went up 51-47 on a tougher tip try by Austin Colbert. Dawson’s tip-in made it 51-49. But he turned the ball over on a pass in traffic, setting up two Jaylon Tate free throws for a four-point lead with 1:59 left.
Trice answered with a 3-pointer with 1:20 remaining before Nunn scored on a drive to make it 55-52. But when Trice was hit by Tate after making the front end of a one-and-one, Michigan State got three more foul shots with 33 seconds left and made just one of them.
That second free throw from Bryn Forbes was the last point the Spartans would score. Hill took over from there, going 4 for 4 at the stripe in the last 15 seconds after bad shots by Valentine and Trice.
Dawson finished with 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting. But with six rebounds, the Big Ten leader in that department failed to reach double figures for just the second time in 10 games.
Michigan State led 10-2 early in the first half, fell behind 26-20, then got a late 3-pointer from Forbes to trail 28-27 at the break. The Spartans were just 5-for-13 at the foul line before intermission, while the Illini were 3-for-3.
Hill led all scorers with eight first-half points, including all three of his team’s free throws. Forbes had seven points in that span, the only Michigan State player with more than four. But when he needed two free throws at the end of the game, he split the pair.
Illinois: The Illini were without top scorer Rayvonte Rice for the ninth straight game, six with a fractured left hand and three for an indefinite team suspension. Aaron Cosby also sat for the third straight game at Coach John Groce’s discretion.
Michigan State: Tom Izzo remained fourth in career Big Ten victories with 227 in 19 1/2 seasons, one shy of the total of Purdue’s Ward “Piggy” Lambert. Bob Knight had 353 wins in 29 years at Indiana, and Gene Keady had 265 in 25 years with the Boilermakers.
Illinois hosts Michigan Thursday night.
Michigan State visits Northwestern Tuesday night.
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