CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Illinois suffered two brutal losses by the final horn Tuesday night.
Star guard Ayo Dosunmu crumbled to the floor clutching his left knee moments after Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman threw down a huge dunk that lifted the Spartans over the 22nd-ranked Illini 70-69.
Illinois did not provide an update on Dosunmu’s status, but coach Brad Underwood said “the outcome of the game is secondary.”
“I get a knot in my stomach when one of our guys goes down like that,” he added. “We don’t know anything right now. He is with our medical staff and his family. My prayers are with him.”
Dosunmu had 17 points Tuesday and is the team’s leading scorer at 15.8 per game. After Tillman’s go-ahead put-back with 6 seconds left, Dosunmu sprinted the ball down the floor but fell awkwardly on his left leg while trying to stop as time ran out.
“I was chasing him in case he missed,” said shaken teammate Kofi Cockburn. “Just in case he missed, which he hardly does. I don’t know man, it’s just overwhelming right now. I’m praying for him,”
Rocket Watts led the Spartans (17-8, 9-5 Big Ten) with 21 points, and Tillman had 17. Aaron Henry and Cassius Winston added 13 and 12, respectively.
“That was a pretty bizarre ending.” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Andres Feliz scored 15 points and Cockburn added 11 for Illinois (16-8, 8-5).
“Ayo is one of the best players in the country,” Feliz said. “We don’t really know anything right now, and that’s hard.”
Michigan State went on a 6-0 run midway through the final half. With the Illini struggling from outside, the Spartans played a switching zone defense most of the game, and Illinois had trouble penetrating.
Dosunmu hit two layups and Illinois went on a 10-0 run with nine minutes left. Illinois went on another 10-0 run and took its first lead of the game, 61-60 with 5:27 left.
The Spartans led 37-20 at the half after starting the game in an 8-0 run with 3-pointers by Henry and Winston. Tevian Jones hit a 3-pointer at nearly four minutes into the game. Illinois was flat the entire first half and shot only 26% from the field, while the Spartans shot 50%.
“We beat a good team tonight,” Izzo said. “We had our running game going early, then we sort of fell apart because of foul trouble.”
Winston’s playing time was limited because of foul trouble, which Izzo said was tough to overcome.
“I wasn’t exited about some of the calls tonight,” Izzo said. “But I would imagine it was a tough game to officiate.”
Playing mix and match lineups because of fouls had an effect on the players, too.
“It was tough. We had guys out there dead tired because we had guys on the bench. It showed,” Izzo said.
Michigan State: The Spartans needed the win on the road, which ended a three-game losing streak.
Illinois: After a seven-game winning streak, the Illini have lost three in a row, The team’s hopes for this season likely rest on how serious Dosunmu’s injury is.
Michigan State: Hosts No. 9 Maryland on Saturday.
Illinois: Travels to Rutgers on Saturday and No. 13 Penn State next Tuesday,
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