- Associated Press - Saturday, March 1, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Tom Izzo screamed at his players, officials and people working the scorer’s table.

After Illinois beat No. 18 Michigan State 53-46 on Saturday, the ranting-and-raving coach was reduced to a voice barely louder than a whisper.

“I thought our energy level was at an all-time worst,” Izzo said softly. “It started with the first shot of the game. We gave up a 3.”

Michigan State had twice as many turnovers (six) as it had baskets (three) seven minutes into the game as it trailed 14-7.

After being proud of his team’s assist-to-turnover ratio, Izzo was disgusted by it.

“It was a joke,” he said.

Illinois might’ve had a lot to do with that.

“They defended very well, which they’ve been doing,” Izzo said. “They turned us over a lot and turned those turnovers into touchdowns.”

The Fighting Illini (17-12, 6-10 Big Ten) have held four consecutive opponents to fewer than 50 points for the first time since the 1947-48 season, according to STATS LLC.

Illinois has three straight victories for the first time since winning four in a row from Dec. 21 to Jan. 4. That successful stretch included a win over then-No. 23 Missouri.

“As soon as you act like you’ve arrived, you’re going to fall pretty quickly,” coach John Groce said.

The Spartans (22-7, 11-5) are falling fast. They’ve lost two straight and six of their last 10 games.

Michigan State was at full strength for the first time in nearly two months, but simply wasn’t good enough to beat a streaking team that seemed more inspired.

Branden Dawson returned from a broken hand and played for the first time since Jan. 21, when he helped the Spartans beat Indiana to improve to 18-1 overall and 7-0 in conference.

“I thought Dawson played phenomenally despite the 30-some-odd days he’s missed,” Izzo said.

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