EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Good afternoon from the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University as No. 5 Illinois (16-5, 12-3 in Big Ten Conference) travels to play the Spartans (11-9, 5-9) for a Tuesday night matchup.
I'm on the road to East Lansing, Michigan so in several hours I'll be LOOKING LIVE...at the Breslin Student Events Center as we're about an hour from the opening tip of the first road trip for Illini Now/Sports Illustrated.
NOTE: Please join us as we live-blog and discuss the Illini game here in our weekly Illini Gameday Open Thread. Dive into the conversation — it's easy — by simply going to the top right of the redesigned site and click the follow button.
You can log in with Facebook or Google and either way, it's free. That's right...IT'S FREE. From there, sound off in the comment section and share your reactions and observations with our staff and fellow members of the Illini Now/Sports Illustrated community as we keep you up to date of the game in real-time.
Game 22: No. 5 Illinois at Michigan State
Date/Time/Place: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021: 6 p.m. CST, Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan
Capacity: N/A (NO FANS!)
Records: Illinois 16-5, 12-3 in Big Ten Conference; 21–10, 13–7 in Big Ten Conference in 2019-20 season. Michigan State is 11-9, 5-9 in Big Ten Conference; 22-9 (14-6 in Big Ten Conference) in 2019-20 season.
Line: Illinois by 7
Series notes: Michigan State leads the all-time series 63-60 and they lead the series in East Lansing 39-20 including the last three matchups. The last time Illinois has won in the Breslin Center is 2015 (59-54, Feb. 7, 2015).
TV: FS1; Kevin Kugler (Play-by-Play), Donny Marshall (Analyst)
Radio (Illinois): Brian Barnhart (PBP), Deon Thomas (analyst).
Ayo Dosunmu - G
Trent Frazier - G
Adam Miller - G
Jacob Grandison - F
Kofi Cockburn - C
AJ Hoggard - G
Joshua Langford - G
Aaron Henry - G
Malik Hall - F
Marcus Bingham - F
- Owning the Big Ten’s longest winning streak and second-longest among power conference teams at seven straight, No. 5 Illinois begins a stretch with four games in eight days Tuesday at Michigan State (6 p.m. CT, FS1).
- Illinois has won five consecutive road games during league play (at PSU, at NW, at IND, at NEB, at MINN), its best stretch since a school record 13-game Big Ten road winning streak from Feb. 3, 2004 through Feb. 19, 2005.
- Illinois is fourth in the current NET rankings, and No. 5 overall (No. 2 seed) in the NCAA Tournament Committee’s initial ranking of the top 16 teams (released Feb. 13). Illinois has seven Quad 1 wins, tied for second-most in the NCAA behind Ohio State (8). The Illini own a combined 11 victories in Quads 1 and 2, meanwhile, tied for third nationally behind Gonzaga and Alabama (12).
- Illinois joins Gonzaga and Baylor as the only teams in the top 10 in both offensive (8th) and defensive (9th) efficiency by kenpom. Illinois is No. 5 overall, the program’s second-highest kenpom ranking (2005, 2nd).
- Over the last two Big Ten seasons, Illinois has the best win percentage (.714) and most league wins (25).
- Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu is the only player in the NCAA over the last 11 seasons to average at least 20 points, six rebounds and five assists, all while leading the Illini back among the nation’s elite.
- Dosunmu is coming off his second triple double in the last four games, joining Michigan State’s Magic Johnson as the only two players in Big Ten history with multiple triple doubles in league play. Dosunmu is averaging 21.0 points, 8.3 assists, and 6.8 rebounds with two triple doubles over the last four games. According to StatsPerform, he is the first Div. I player in the last 25 years to reach those four marks in a four-game span.
- Dosunmu is on pace to become just the second Big Ten player since 1993 to average 20 points, six rebounds and five assists, joining Ohio State’s Evan Turner, the National Player of the Year in 2009-10.
- Kofi Cockburn ranks second in the NCAA with 15 double-doubles this season. He has posted double-doubles in 12 of 15 Big Ten games, averaging 19.0 points and 10.9 rebounds during league play. At 17.6 ppg and 10.3 rpg overall, Cockburn is one of just three players from the high-major conferences currently averaging a double-double. He is on pace to become the first Illini player since Nick Weatherspoon in 1973 (25.0 ppg, 12.3 rpg) to average a double-double for an entire season.
- Cockburn is one of seven players nationally averaging at least 17 points and 10 rebounds, and he is the only player in the NCAA averaging 15+ points and 10+ boards while shooting at least 65 percent. Dosunmu and Cockburn are combining for 38.8 points per game, the sixth-highest duo nationally, and third among the high-major conferences.
- Trent Frazier has seen his scoring increase recently, averaging 14.0 points (98) while making an average of 2.7 treys (19) on 40.2% 3-point shooting over the last seven games. Along with the increased scoring, Frazier is contending for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors. He had a career-high 6 steals while holding Minnesota star Marcus Carr to 3-of-11 shooting in Saturday’s victory.
- Freshman Andre Curbelo ranks third in the Big Ten in assists during league play at 4.8 apg. He is averaging 4.2 assists on the season, currently ranking fifth on the school’s all-time freshman assists chart behind legendary Illini point guards Bruce Douglas, Derek Harper, Dee Brown and Deron Williams.
- Da’Monte Williams is second in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (min. 1.5 att/g), connecting on 24-of-42 for 57.1%.
- Since scoring a season-low 63 points in the loss to Maryland, Illinois is averaging 79.3 points over the last eight games (634). Illinois has held 11 of its last 12 foes to less than 44 percent shooting. Since the loss to Ohio State, opponents are shooting a combined 39.9% over the last seven games (172-431), all Illini wins. Illinois is 14-1 this season when holding teams to less than 45 percent shooting.
- Illinois is ranked No. 5 for the second straight week in the AP Top 25. The Illini are in the Top 5 of a February poll for the first year since 2005, and just the fourth time in the last 65 seasons (1989, 2001, 2005, 2021). Illinois’ 12-3 conference record is its best since 2005 when the No. 1-ranked Illini went 15-1 to win the Big Ten. Illinois’ seven-game winning streak is the second-longest active streak among teams from the high-major conferences behind undefeated Baylor (17), and the 11th-best currently in all of Division I.
- Michigan State junior forward Aaron Henry was selected as one of the Top 10 candidates for the 2021 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award on Jan. 27. Henry leads Michigan State with 15.0 points and 3.5 assists per game, is second on the team with 5.5 rebounds per game and adds 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals in a team-leading 31.0 minutes per game. Henry is the only player in Division I averaging at least 15.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 blocks per game.
- The Spartans are coming off a 78-71 win at Indiana on Saturday where Henry tied a career-high with 27 points.
UNIFORM UPDATE: Illinois is going with the orange throwbacks tonight and they wore those in its last trip to East Lansing with Michigan State wearing green.
However, it appears Michigan State is going with the white tonight.
UPDATE: The officials for tonight's contest are Larry Scirotto, Steve McJunkins, Edwin Young.
Scirotto has done six previous Illinois games this season (Ohio, at Rutgers, at Northwestern, Ohio State, Iowa and at Nebraska).
This is the first Illini game this season for both McJunkins and Young.
UPDATE: Illinois going with the Ayo, Frazier, Miller, Grandison, Cockburn starting lineup. Michigan State going with Rocket Watts and Julius Marble in the starting lineup tonight along with Lankford, Henry and Gabe Brown.
MEDIA TIMEOUT (16:00 left in 1st): No. 5 Illinois 5, Michigan State 2 - Trent Frazier with a opportunities 3pt and has done an excellent job on the ball guarding Rocket Watts.
Of the five rebounds for the Illini, guards have three already and Illinois has already beat MSU down the floor tonight for an easy layup.
MEDIA TIMEOUT (11:58 left in 1st): Michigan State 10, No. 5 Illinois 5 - Illini offense is all kinds of screwed up right now (five turnovers) but the good news for the road team is Michigan State's 10-0 run has come over five minutes because they have no dead-eye shooters.
ILLINI TIMEOUT (8:03 left in 1st): Michigan State 24, No. 5 Illinois 16 - Illinois is making dumb turnovers and not getting back on defense. Michigan State is 11 of 21 from the field with three offensive rebounds. Illinois has more turnovers (5) than field goals (4)
MEDIA TIMEOUT (3:36 left in 1st): Michigan State 30, No. 5 Illinois 21 - Illinois is playing terrible and slow right now on both ends of the floor. The only thing keeping Illini in this first half is MSU is also going through LONG scoring droughts as well.
Ayo Dosunmu is 2 of 7 from the field tonight as Michigan State making it difficult to get to the rim.
HALFTIME: Michigan State 36, No. 5 Illinois 26 - Illinois is 0 of 12 on layups in the first 20 minutes of action and 7 of 29 from the field. Michigan State has doubled the Illini in fast break points (12-6) and points in the paint (14-6). Trent Frazier's outside shooting is the only thing keeping this from being a blow out.
Michigan State's Joshua Langford has 7 points and 10 rebounds in this first half.
ILLINI TIMEOUT (14:45 left): Michigan State 47, No. 5 Illinois 31 - Michigan State's Joshua Langford already has a double-double (11 points and 13 rebounds) and Michigan State has 22 points in the paint.
Illinois has received 16 points and five turnovers from the Ayo-Kofi combination.
MEDIA TIMEOUT (11:30 left): Michigan State 54, No. 5 Illinois 36 - Michigan State's last two buckets have come off offensive rebounds as Illini getting worked on the glass in this second half.
Kofi Cockburn's stat line so far: 18 mins, 7 pts, 3 of 7 FGs, 1 of 6 FTs, 5 rebs, 3 fouls.