Michigan State extends home winning streak to 28Jan 18, 2009 - 1:50 AM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- Michigan State coach Tom Izzo gave credit to the fans following an ugly win that extended the nation's third-longest home winning streak.
Goran Suton scored 12 points and Raymar Morgan added eight as the 10th-ranked Spartans won a defensive battle with Illinois, 63-57, on Saturday.
Marquise Gray had 12 points and Kalin Lucas scored all 10 of his in the second half for the Spartans (15-2, 5-0 Big Ten), who extended their home winning streak to 28 games.
There was extra excitement at the Breslin Center, as former Michigan State star Morris Peterson had his jersey retired.
"I think it's the most emotion we've had in five or six years," Izzo said. "I don't say that against our people, but our team and our fans have to get back to being a number one (No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament).
"We haven't been there as a team and other programs have raised their levels a little bit and copied some of the things we've done and surpassed us in some ways."
The Spartans posted their 11th straight win and are off to their best start in conference play since 1977-78, when they opened Big Ten play with a 7-0 record.
Izzo said Peterson is, "probably why I coach and that's why it was an emotional day for me, but it was also a day when we had to win a game and we found a way to do that under some bizarre circumstances."
The Spartans turned the ball over 18 times and shot just 40 percent (22-of-55), but somehow pulled out the win.
Alex Legion had 15 points and Calvin Brock added 13 for the Illini (15-3, 3-2), who led for most of the game.
Spurred on by a raucous crowd, Michigan State hung around and took its first lead since early in the first half when Morgan's free throws made it 55-54 with 4:12 left.
The free throws came as part of an 11-2 run.
"That wouldn't have happened on the road," Izzo said of the late rally.
"It happened because of the fans in the stands. We sometimes forget that back in the championship years, the fans in the stands won us a lot of games, too. Today, the home court deserved a lot of credit."
The lead swelled to five when Morgan took an outlet pass from Travis Walton and scored on a layup to make it 59-54 with 3:56 left.
Morgan failed to convert the three-point play, but Delvin Roe got the rebound and hit one of two free throws for a 60-54 lead - the Spartans' largest advantage of the game.
Lucas hit a pair of free throws to stretch the cushion to 62-57, but Michigan State left the door open. Walton missed three of four from the line down the stretch.
After Legion missed a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left, the Illini got the ball back and promptly turned it over.
Illinois led, 34-27, at halftime and was in control most of the second half before the late rally by Michigan State.
"They were much more physical inside and they are good at it and that was the difference in the game," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said.
"Down the stretch they took it over. It's disappointing again. It's not losing, it's kind of how we have lost. We have to make some strides."
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
ILLINOIS 34 23 57
MICHIGAN ST (10) 27 36 63 FINAL
Jan 17 6:18 PM
- NCAA BB
(10) MICHIGAN ST 27 HALFTIME
Jan 17 5:00 PM
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