EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State traditionally improves during its winter break.
This season has been no exception and it has helped the Spartans climb back toward their preseason ranking.
Michigan State, No. 8 in latest The Associated Press' Top 25 poll, has won seven straight since being routed by North Carolina.
"We're starting to head in the direction that we can sub properly and not by necessity," coach Tom Izzo said Monday. "If we can continue to do that, we'll become a better team."
The Spartans (11-2, 2-0 Big Ten) host Ohio State on Tuesday night and defending national champion Kansas on Saturday.
Michigan State started the season ranked sixth, rose to fifth and plummeted as low as No. 19 following a 35-point loss to the Tar Heels and an 18-point setback against Maryland.
The Spartans started to display some of their potential recently because senior center Goran Suton was back in the lineup after he missed six games with a knee injury. That allowed freshman forward Delvon Roe to come off the bench in conference games after he pushed his surgically repaired knees as a starter.
Things seemed to click with a win against then-No. 5 Texas last month in Houston and the momentum carried over into a victory against then-No. 21 Minnesota last week on the road.
"Minnesota was playing as well as anyone in the conference and we played one of our better games," Izzo said.
Slowly, Izzo is getting a little bit more of a gauge on his team.
"We've noticed lately that Suton has been a big difference," he said. "But then we lost Delvon Roe to an ankle injury. We haven't had those two together in practice for more than two days."
Roe was limited to 5 minutes against the Golden Gophers, then played 18 minutes Saturday in an 11-point win at Northwestern.
A trio of Spartans -- Roe, Raymar Morgan and Travis Walton -- will play against their home state Buckeyes on Tuesday night when Michigan State plays its first game at home since Dec. 17 and just its fifth this season.
The Spartans have won 25 straight games at home, dating to a loss on Feb. 3, 2007, against No. 4 Ohio State.
"That is a great environment," said Ohio State coach Thad Matta.
Michigan State will have three days off -- without classes in session -- to prepare for the Jayhawks in what might be an especially charged atmosphere if New Orleans Hornets guard Morris Peterson has his jersey retired during the same afternoon.
"We're trying to work some things out," Izzo said when asked about honoring one of the stars from the 2000 championship team.