The Illini (14-5, 4-3 Big Ten) led 53-43 on a 3-pointer by Paul with 13:08 to play. But they had to hold off a late Spartans charge and ultimately won with seven free throws from four players that
built a two-point lead back up to 65-57 with 5:28 left.
Jereme Richmond added 14 points for Illinois, and Demetri McCamey had 15 points and 11 assists.
The win ended a two-game skid for Illinois that included defeats at Penn State and Wisconsin.
Michigan State (12-6, 4-2) was led by Kalin Lucas, who scored 15 points. Raymond Green had 12 but fouled out with 36 seconds to play.