CHAMPAIGN — 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 winning streak with a 75-66 victory Friday night at the State Farm Center.
The Illini have won three straight after an 0-3 start in the Big Ten.
Dainja, a player Illinois 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 long 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.
A.J. Hoggard scored 20 points to lead Michigan State. Walker had 14 and Joey Hauser added 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Michigan State plays host to No. 3 Purdue on Monday.
Illinois travels to take on Minnesota on Monday.