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East Lansing – As the halfway point of the Big Ten season approaches, Michigan State faces one of its most important weeks yet.

The Spartans, who have lost three of the last four and now stand 12-8 overall with a 4-3 mark in the conference, host No. 20 Purdue on Tuesday night before hosting Michigan on Sunday afternoon.

“We do talk about this is a big week,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “We got two big home games. Big week. It’s a big week for our fans, it’s a big week for our players, it’s a big week for our staff and that’s the way we’re approaching it.”

It’s big because if Michigan State intends to stay in the hunt for a Big Ten title, and just as importantly extend an NCAA Tournament streak that stands at 19 straight years, turning things around now is critical.

Izzo understands that as well as anyone, and he’s confident his team has what it takes to get it done. In the meantime, the Hall of Famer is reveling in what it takes.

He understand the frustration of the fans and says it’s no different for him. But quite frankly, he enjoys it more than if things were going smoothly.

“One thing good about me, I’ve learned a couple of big words,” Izzo said. “But I think I enjoy being a masochist. I think I enjoy it. I enjoy it when everyone wants to throw stuff and I enjoy the pain and it drives me. There’s some joy to it some nights, there really is. I’m gonna make sure my team knows that and understands it and we’ll be better.”

Michigan State will get its chance to make life a bit easier for its coach with both games this week being played at the Breslin Center. The Spartans have been much more comfortable at home, especially the freshmen, and have lost their last three road games.

“I love playing at the Breslin,” freshman Miles Bridges said. “We always have good games as a team and our energy level, basically because of the fans. We have such great fans with the Izzone. The intensity picks up all the time. I love playing there.”

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau

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