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Wayne Staats | | February 5, 2019

Michigan State-Illinois: 4 takeaways as the No. 9 Spartans lose third in a row

Illinois upsets Michigan State

The Big Ten has been rocked again. And Michigan State is searching for answers.

The suddenly slumping Spartans lost their third in a row, this time 79-74 at Illinois. No. 9 MSU falls to 18-5 overall and 9-3 in the Big Ten. On Saturday, Michigan State lost at home to Indiana.

Here's how Illinois stunned MSU — and what it means.

Michigan State-Illinois: Takeaways from the Illini's upset win

Sloppy start didn't doom MSU, but it hurt

Michigan State committed 24 turnovers, coughing it up on 45 percent of its first-half possession to trail 41-32 at the half. Yuck.

At one point, the Spartans were shooting 60 percent...and trailed by 12 with inside 13 minutes to play because it had 21 turnovers and allowed the Illini to gobble up 10 offensive rebounds.

Michigan State still battled back and briefly took the lead late as Cassius Winston scored 21 points.

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Illinois finally beats a top-10 team again

February 7, 2013.

That was the last time the Illini knocked off a top-10 team. It was a memorable one, too. Illinois upset then-No. 1 Indiana.

This time, Illinois got 24 points from Ayo Dosunmu, who led four Illini players in double figures.

Michigan State is now officially in a slump

The first loss was on the road to a red-hot Purdue team that's now won seven in a row.

But the last two Spartans setbacks have been to Indiana at home and now to Illinois, two teams a combined 8-15 in the Big Ten.

There's still time to turn things around, but MSU will be going into Saturday's Top 16 reveal on a three-game slide.

Andy Katz talks with Illinois' Trent Frazier after upsetting MSU

The Big Ten race is going to be fun

Not that it wasn't already, but the Big Ten regular-season title race is going to be wild.

Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Maryland are all within two games of the lead. With it a 20-game conference season, there's plenty of time left for someone to emerge from the pack.

But Michigan State will have to figure things out quickly; MSU plays at home Saturday against Minnesota and then travels to Wisconsin next Tuesday.

Those games are great stages to become the Big Ten favorite again. But 10 days ago, Michigan State was 18-2 and undefeated in the Big Ten.

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