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.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Illinois forward Leron Black is now out indefinitely with a meniscus tear he suffered in early October.
Team spokesman Derrick Burson confirmed Black’s status Thursday.
Black had surgery on his right knee on Oct. 9 and has played limited minutes in just a handful of games since his return. He did not play in Illinois’ two most recent games.
The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Black was expected to start this season and offer inside scoring, rebounding and defense to a team that is short on all three.
Black is one of three would-be starters out long-term for Illinois (6-5). Point guard Tracy Abrams is out for the season, and coach John Groce has said he isn’t sure if center Mike Thorne Jr. will return.
Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.
Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.
Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).
In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.