In the first half of the game in East Lansing at the Breslin Center, Michigan State guard Alvin Ellis III missed a reverse dunk and landed flat on the floor. For most players this would have been downright embarrassing. However McDonald's All American, Deyonta Davis rebounded and swung the ball back out to Bryn Forbes, Forbes then splashed home the trey which put the Spartans ahead by 19 points.
John Groce and his team trailed by as many as 25 points through the first half of play on Thursday night, there was not one moment throughout the contest that Illinois had even a remote chance of winning, the Spartans went on to dominate and finished the night with a 79-54 victory over a lost Illini team.
Illini Struggle without Kendrick Nunn
The loss puts Illinois at 8-8 on the year and 0-3 in conference play, a big reason perhaps as to why Illinois struggled in last night's game had to do with the absence of junior guard Kendrick Nunn. Nunn currently averages almost 20 points per game, he decided to stay back at school where he was awaiting the birth of his son. Nunn's son, Kason Lee, was born right before tipoff of last night's game.
Nunn’s absence certainly didn't do any good for the Orange and Blue as Illinois has been struggling once again to keep their guys healthy. Tracy Abrams, Mike Thorne Jr. and Leron Black all have been sidelined for the rest of the year due to season ending injuries. Despite the loss of those key players, Illinois left the Michigan State campus last night with another type of injury. Illinois is currently facing a possible 0-4 start in conference play; that is if Sunday's game against Purdue mirrors the result of eight of their games this season.
Nowhere To Go But Up?
Starting conference play with a record of 0-3 has been almost unheard of in the Illini Basketball program, the last time they started conference play 0-3 was back in 2007-08 under head coach Bruce Weber, Illinois wound up finishing ninth in conference that year and didn't make the postseason.
So can we blame the absence of Nunn as the reason as to why we lost? Absolutely not. The loss was more than an individual problem, it was a whole team problem as Illinois shot just 29.8 percent and only hit two three-pointers out of their 15 attempted.
Maverick Morgan led the Orange and Blue with 15 points, however he only shot 2-of-9 from the field. Malcolm Hill had 10 points and went 4-of-10 from the field. Illinois not only struggled on offense they also struggled mightily on the defensive side as well, Illinois allowed MSU to shoot 53.2 percent, making it seem as if they were literally scoring every time they took a trip down court.
Bryn Forbes led the Spartans in scoring with 17 points, Deyonta Davis had 10 points, six rebounds and two assists and four blocks.