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Illinois upsets No. 9 Michigan State

Feb 1, 2012 - 5:38 AM Champaign, IL (Sports Network) - It wasn't pretty, but Brandon Paul scored a game-high 18 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 45.5 seconds left in the game, as Illinois upset No. 9 Michigan State, 42-41, on Tuesday.

Paul also had nine rebounds and five assists for Illinois (16-6, 5-4 Big Ten), which shot just 32.6 percent from the floor and went 3-for-17 from three-point range as the Fighting Illini snapped a three-game losing streak.

Branden Dawson was the only other member of the game to score in double digits with 12 points for the Spartans (17-5, 6-3), who struggled to 24.1 percent shooting in their third loss in five games.

"I thought we cracked for the first time," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "I didn't think we handled adversity at all."

After Illinois took the game's largest lead, 35-29, with Paul's driving, baseline dunk with 7:48 left in the second half, the Spartans scored the game's next eight points to jump ahead 38-35.

Each team would only manage one basket apiece over an almost two-minute span as each team continued to struggle from the floor until Tracy Abrams' three- pointer knotted the game at 40 with 2:11 left in regulation. Illinois had been 2-for-16 from beyond the arc before Abrams' trey.

Travis Trice missed a three on the Spartans' next touch, and Paul was fouled while making a desperation shot at the end of the shot clock with 45.5 seconds left in the game, making both free throws for a 42-40 Illinois lead.

Paul grabbed a rebound after another missed three-pointer by Michigan State, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the other end.

MSU grabbed the board and coming out of a timeout, Derrick Nix was fouled under the basket and made the back end of two foul shots to bring the Spartans within one with 13 seconds left.

Illinois again missed the first of a 1-and-1 to keep it a one-point game, but Keith Appling's driving layup in the closing seconds was no good and Illinois grabbed the rebound to seal the win.

Michigan State missed its first eight shots from the floor and made just four of its first 22 shots, but pulled down 19 rebounds -- 13 offensive -- and held a 14-12 lead with 8:32 to play in the first half.

Illinois didn't fare much better, making 5-of-12 shots through the first 11 1/2 minutes of the game.

It remained a one-possession game for the remainder of the half and Myke Henry's tip in gave Illinois a 22-20 lead at the break.

The Spartans finished the half shooting 7-for-30 but held a 24-17 advantage on the glass. Illinois went 9-for-25 but 1-for-8 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Game Notes

Michigan State's Draymond Green hopped off the court late in the second half with a left knee injury. He could not put any pressure on the leg after suffering the injury while making a spin move in the offensive zone...Illinois now leads the all-time series 56-55...Michigan State outrebounded Illinois 49-32.