for this game

Lucas helps Michigan State capture Big Ten title

Mar 2, 2009 - 3:43 AM CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (Ticker) -- Kalin Lucas scored 18 points to help ninth-ranked Michigan State claim at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season crown Sunday with a 74-66 victory over No. 20 Illinois.

Raymar Morgan added 14 points off the bench for Michigan State, which can clinch the title outright with a win over Indiana on Tuesday.

The Spartans (23-5, 13-3 Big Ten) never trailed in the contest, winning their third straight game and capturing the regular season title for the first time since 2001.

"We played at times some of our best basketball," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo told the Chicago Tribune. "I'm ecstatic. To win on the road, win in a place I have so much respect for."

The Fighting Illini (23-7, 11-6) used a 10-3 spurt midway through the second half to tie the game for the first time at 58-58 and both teams stalled offensively from there.

Over the next 5:25 of game action, the teams combined for just three points as Michigan State held a 60-59 lead with under two minutes remaining.

"I knew they'd be ready to play," Illinois coach Bruce Weber told the Tribune. "At the start of the second half, we were hanging our head, like deer in headlights. I told them, 'This is your own place. Are you going to let them run over you?'"

Michigan State went on a 16-6 run from there to claim the season sweep over the Fighting Illini. Lucas started the spurt with a pair of free throws and Travis Walton delivered a clutch jumper as the shot clock expired on the next possession for a five-point lead.

"We didn't execute, and they picked it up on defense," Illinois guard Trent Meacham told the newspaper. "We ran down the shot clock and weren't getting good looks."

After Demetri McCamey made a pair of free throws, the Spartans diced up the Illinois press, resulting in Durrell Summers' dunk. They iced the game by knocking down 6-of-8 from the free-throw line down the stretch.

Mike Tisdale led Illinois with 15 points and Mike Davis added 13 points and eight rebounds.

"We gave ourselves a chance," Weber told the Tribune. "We didn't make plays down the stretch."