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No. 5 Michigan State routs Illinois 79-54 without Valentine

Bryn Forbes, Jaylon Tate

Michigan State’s Bryn Forbes (5) pressures Illinois’ Jaylon Tate (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 79-54. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)


EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Bryn Forbes scored 17 points to help No. 5 Michigan State rout Illinois 79-54 on Thursday night.

The Spartans (15-1, 2-1 Big Ten) were without Denzel Valentine for a fourth straight game. Valentine participated in pregame warmups and might play at Penn State on Sunday, nearly three weeks after having surgery on his left knee.

The Illini (8-8, 0-3) didn’t have leading-scorer Kendrick Nunn, who the team said stayed in Illinois for the birth of his child.

Maverick Morgan had 15 points and Malcolm Hill scored 10 for Illinois. The Illini made barely more than one-fourth of their shots in the first half and allowed the Spartans to connect on 61 percent of their shots before halftime.

Eron Harris scored 13 and Matt McQuaid had a career-high 10 points for the Spartans.


Illinois: The short-handed Illini called timeouts, trying to slow down Michigan State, and one of their banged-up players had a lot to say to his teammates in the huddle during one of the second-half breaks. Tracy Abrams, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, shouted at his teammates to keep playing hard even though they trailed by 30 points.

Michigan State: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has been encouraging McQuaid to be more aggressive offensively. The freshman guard made two 3-pointers and a driving, layup in the first half and scored eight points in seven minutes before halftime. Nine Spartans scored in the first 20 minutes, helping them lead 47-22.


Illinois hosts No. 20 Purdue on Sunday.

Michigan State plays at Penn State on Sunday.