These are the words of ESPN announcer Mike Tirico late in the second half during the Illinois' upset victory over No. 10 Michigan State 42-41 at Assembly Hall, and he wasn't being overly dramatic. Illinois' victory is huge for the team's tournament chances, but it certainly wasn't pretty. The Illini shot just 15-of-46 (32 percent) from the field, but Michigan State (14-of-58 for 24 percent) was even worse. The game might have been hard to watch, but Illinois will obviously take the victory, which propels Bruce Weber's crew to 16-6 overall and 5-4 in the Big 10.
Brandon Paul turned it on in the second half and willed Illinois to the victory. As the only Illini player to reach double-figures scoring, Paul put up 18 points (on 6-of-17 shooting). nine rebounds, and five assists. Fellow junior guard D.J. Richardson scored nine. The two players combined to go 2-for-12 on three-point attempts. As a team, the Illini shot just 17 percent from downtown. Star center Meyers Leonard scored just four points.
Freshman wing Branden Dawson starred for the Spartans, scoring a team-high 12 points and finishing with 13 rebounds.
Illinois could use another upset over a top 10 team at home, especially since in this case it would snap a three-game losing streak, and so far they've done a nice job at the defensive end against the Spartans and hold a slim 22-20 halftime lead.
Although the Illini shot just 36% in the half, they might have a larger lead were it not for the double digit offensive boards they allowed the ice-cold Spartans to grab; Michigan State hit just seven of 31 field goal attempts (22.6%).