Following three straight losses, Michigan State men’s basketball has fallen from the AP Top 25 rankings for the first time since the 2016-17 season and have become just the second preseason No. 1 team to drop from the rankings since 1968. Fighting to get their season back on track, the Spartans will travel to Champaign-Urbana to face No. 22 Illinois on Tuesday night (ESPN, 9 p.m.).
“We’re going to have to do the job with multiple guys,” Izzo said. “I think the biggest thing is we still have to take care of what we do and that’s to take care of the ball a little better, get our break going, which to me has been nonexistent, and then have more energy.”
Illinois (16-7 overall, 8-4 Big Ten) sits at second place in the Big Ten behind Maryland. The Fighting Illini fell to Maryland at home 75-66 on Feb. 7, recording their second straight loss. The Spartans lead 62-60 all-time against the Illini and have taken 13 of the last 20 meetings.
Illinois made a trip to the Breslin Center earlier this season where the Spartans took a 76-56 victory behind a dominant performance by senior guard Cassius Winston.
Izzo acknowledged strong guard play from the Illini’s sophomore Ayo Dosunmu, who leads his team averaging 15.8 points per game, junior Trent Frazier and senior Andres Feliz as the biggest aspect to the Illini’s tough lineup.
The Illini are 11-2 at home while the Spartans road record struggles at 3-4. Both teams will be looking to snap losing streaks come Tuesday night.
“The beauty of my sport is if you keep getting better in the end maybe some good things will happen to you,” Izzo said. “We have a lot of work to do. … I also think some different plays and we win the game.”
Jayna Bardahl: 73-70, MSU
Paolo Giannandrea: 72-68, Illinois