Illinois basketball had a chance to go on the road in the Big Ten and secure a win, but we let it slip away.
The Illini had Michigan State on their heels multiple times on Saturday. We could have taken full control in this game, but the Spartans were too tough.
Michigan State took a three-point halftime lead and expanded on it in the final 20 minutes. While Illinois had this at a one-score game with under two minutes to go, we couldn't manage to make the right plays. The Illini ended up falling to the Spartans, 88-80.
Here are five crucial observations from the Illinois basketball loss against Michigan State
1. Illinois had horrible decisions down the stretch
Throughout the game, the Illini were able to compete with Michigan State. The Spartans threw everything they had at us, but we continued to play decently well.
With Michigan State up two points, Illinois had the ball looking to at least equalize the score. That didn’t happen, though. The Illini got into a two-man game toward our own bench, and for some reason, Justin Harmon decided to still pass the ball despite his man playing the pass well.
Harmon ended up turning the ball over, which led to a score at the other end for the Spartans.
The next time down the court, Illinois now down four points, the same exact thing happened. Marcus Domask had the ball, and the Illini had a man post up toward our bench. Domask, instead of finding a different route, decided to try to pass to the posted up man, and this resulted in another turnover.
Michigan State brought the ball down the court and got to the free throw line for two free throws, both of which were converted.
At this point, Illinois was in a six-point hole, and the momentum was clearly in favor of the Spartans. This stretch of two possessions inside of the final two minutes all but ended the game. The decision-making down the stretch was awful, and it was one of the things that cost us the game.