Dain Dainja was an inside force Michigan State had no answer for and Matthew Mayer hit clutch 3s in the second half as Illinois ended the Spartans seven-game win streak with a 75-66 win on Friday night.
Dainja, a Illinois player coach Brad Underwood calls “a dancing bear,” powered inside and scored with both hands to put up 20 points and lead the Illini. Mayer hit 3 of 6 from distance and scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half.
Illinois went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 54-54, then took the lead on two free throws by Dainja, going in front for the first time since taking a 27-26 first-half lead. Mayer added a pull-up 3 to complete a run of 10 straight points.
Michigan State (12-4, 4-2, Big Ten) rallied to tie the game on a Tyson Walker jumper with 5:47 left, but Coleman Hawkins answered with a 3 to put Illinois (12-5, 3-3) back on top for good.
Terrence Shannon Jr scored 17 points for the Illini. Hawkins scored all nine of his points in the second half and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. Mayer blocked six shots.
AJ Hoggard scored 20 points to lead Michigan State. Walker had 14 and Joey Hauser contributed 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Michigan State plays host to No. 3 Purdue Monday.
Illinois travels to take on Minnesota Monday.