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Michigan State hands Illini fourth straight loss

Gary Harris scored 23 points and Denzel Valentine pulled down 11 rebounds to lead No. 4 Michigan State past Illinois 78-62 on Saturday night.

CHAMPAIGN, IL - Gary Harris scored 23 points and Denzel Valentine pulled down 11 rebounds to lead No. 4 Michigan State past Illinois 78-62 on Saturday night.

The Spartans (17-1, 6-0 Big Ten) stayed on top of the Big Ten with their 10th straight win. With the victory, Michigan State is also off to the best start in team history. No Spartans team has ever won 17 of its first 18.

After opening conference play 2-0, Illinois has now lost four in a row.

Michigan State owned the boards early against the Illini (13-6, 2-4), outrebounding them 24-10 over the first 20 minutes. The Spartans used that edge to open up a 10-point lead by halftime and held the Illini at arm's length the rest of the night.

Valentine and Keith Appling each added 15 points for the Spartans. Tracy Abrams led Illinois with 15 points.

The win moved Michigan State coach Tom Izzo past Illinois' Lou Henson and into fourth on the list of career Big Ten wins with 215.

Illinois closed to within six at 59-53 with 6:11 in the game on a pair of free throws by Abrams.

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