The Spartans (17-5, 4-3) nearly overcame a 20-point deficit to the Buckeyes as Drew Neitzel led a second half surge, scoring 24 points in the half. But they came up two points short as a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Maurice Joseph bounced off the rim as time expired.
Although the loss left a sour taste in the Spartan's mouth, they must focus at the game at hand and playing in front of a tough orange crush student section at Assembly Hall in Champaign.
We have a get an edge back," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "We are going to have to bring nothing less than our A game if we want to win this game on their home court."
The Fighting Illini (15-8, 3-5) are coming off a bad loss at Purdue where the Boilermakers jumped all over them early and won 64-47 on Saturday.
The two teams met on Jan. 14 as the Spartans overcame a 14-point deficit to win 63-57 in East Lansing. MSU has won the last two meetings overall, but the Illini have won the last three contests in Champaign.
Drew Neitzel led all scorers with 19 points for the Spartans and sealed the win for the Spartans with a jumper with 25 seconds remaining to put his team up by five points. Neitzel has led the Spartans in scoring all season, with 18.7 points and 4.6 assists per game.
"With the improvement Carter and Pruitt, they are going more inside with the ball," Izzo said.
Senior Rich McBride, who led the Illini with 12 points on four three-pointers in the last meeting against the Spartans, scores 9.5 points per game and is the biggest long-range threat for the Illini.
Junior forward Brian Randle has missed the last two games for Illinois but should be able to play off the bench against the Spartans on Tuesday. Randle averages 8.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds.
"They are going to play hard, they are still a good basketball team. You know that place is going to be ‘rockin and it's still Michigan State and Illinois," Izzo said.
The Spartans are currently in the midst of a stretch of games where they play a home-and-home series with Ohio State finishing on Saturday and with Wisconsin coming up in a few weeks.
"This is a test for our young team," said Izzo. "Do we keep our edge that we got beat and we have to go play another big game on he road or do we lose our edge and start thinking we have accomplished something, and that's the juggling act that will be decided in the next 48 hours," added Izzo.