By Chris Ramirez
East Lansing, MI – Keith Appling scored a game-high 24 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had seven assists, as 13th-ranked Michigan State beat Illinois, 80-75 in a Big Ten Conference showdown Thursday at Breslin Center. Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine each had 14 points for the Spartans (18-4, 7-2 Big Ten), who trailed by 10 points at halftime, but outscored the Illini 53-38 in the second half en route to bouncing back from a loss Sunday at Indiana. Tracy Abrams scored 16 points and dished out six helpers and D.J. Richardson added 14 points for the Fighting Illini (15-7, 2-6), who have lost five of six.