Must win: Michigan State hosts Indiana

"The road doesn't get much easier," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo on Monday on facing #9 Indiana (10-2, 2-0 Big Ten). Indiana leads the all-time series 61-40.

"The road doesn't get much easier," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo on Monday on facing #9 Indiana (10-2, 2-0 Big Ten). Indiana leads the all-time series 61-40.

The Spartans (12-4, 0-2 Big Ten) find themselves in an early hole to start their Big Ten conference schedule after losing at #6 Illinois and at #24 Wisconsin.

Now the Spartans face their third consecutive ranked opponent to open up conference play, with #19 Ohio State up next.

"There is nothing wrong with anybody and there's nobody hurt," said Izzo. "Paul (Davis) was in foul trouble and we still have one of the best 2-guards in the country in Maurice Ager, they just haven't play as well lately. This is what happens when your star players don't show up; we end up looking elsewhere for support."

The Spartans return home to host the Hoosiers on Wednesday night and that might just be what the team needs to wake up from poor offensive play and sloppy ball handling.

"They are a good basketball team. You can't look at their Big Ten record because anyone can go on the road a lose two straight, especially at Illinois and at Wisconsin. They are going to come out and push the ball up the court," said Indiana coach Mike Davis.

The Hoosiers knocked off #19 Ohio State from the ranks of the unbeaten on Saturday. They are led by senior Marco Killingsworth's 19.4 points per game along with sophomore guard Robert Vaden's 14.7 per game.

"They have got a very good team because they can beat you in different ways," said Izzo. "Even with those two stars (Killingsworth and Vaden), they do not play a lot of minutes together. They are playing those guys 10 or 12 minutes together, they are big loads but for the most part they are in tight."

Killingworth is a force from in the paint and outside and Robert Vaden is shooting over 50 percent (29-56) from 3-point this season.

Defensively the Spartans have allowed a lot of three-point shots in the past two games.

"We played a lot better defense against Illinois. Our position on defense and our mistakes on defense are getting better so now we plugged one hole but now our offense isn't working so we need to balance those two out," said Izzo.

The Spartans' offensive trio has not reached their offensive averages in each of the last two games.

Maurice Ager still leads the Spartans in scoring, averaging 20.5 points per game and after a career-high 31 points against Wisconsin; Shannon Brown joins Paul Davis in averaging 18 points per game.

The Hoosiers took a blow to their starting center D.J. White, who injured his left foot against Ohio State and will be out indefinetly. The Hoosiers will replace the 6-foot-9 force with 6-foot-10 freshman Ben Allen.

"It is going to make a difference," said senior guard Marshall Strickland. "D.J. gave us an element that we really needed at the beginning of the year. He gave Marco time to rest and he is another scorer inside. We lose a lot of the little things he did on the court."

With all facts and scenarios aside, Tom Izzo and the Spartans have to get it together and play one of their toughest games this year on Wednesday. More than ever, they need a win to get them back on track.

"To me every home game in the Big Ten is an important game if you're always playing to win a championship," said Izzo. "I think we still have the right ingredients; we just have to play better than we have been on the offensive end."


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