Michigan State's previous eight games have been a virtual roller coaster - win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win, loss. With five games left on their regular-season schedule, the 14th-ranked Spartans visit Purdue on Thursday in search of some much-needed consistency. "In evaluating everything, I would say that it's time for a sense of urgency, more than it is a sense of panic," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, whose team has dealt with significant injuries all season. For instance, forward Branden Dawson (hand) will miss his eighth straight game Thursday and point guard Keith Appling (wrist) is now likely to miss the rest of the regular season. "I can't worry about (him playing against) Purdue and Michigan," Izzo said of Appling, who averages 14.4 points and 4.7 assists. "You just have to worry about getting him healthy for the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament." Purdue, meanwhile, has won two of three following a four-game slide, including perhaps its most impressive win of the season in Saturday's 18-point triumph over Indiana. TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPNABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (21-5, 10-3 Big Ten): This is a huge game for the Spartans as they close their regular season with three of their final four games against ranked opponents, including road matchups with two of their two biggest rivals, Michigan and Ohio State. Adreian Payne (16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds) is probably Michigan State's most reliable option at the moment, although his 11 points in Sunday's loss to Nebraska marked his fewest in the four games since he returned from a foot injury. Travis Trice, the primary fill-in for Appling, finished with three points and one assist against the Cornhuskers after averaging 12 points and four assists over the previous two games.ABOUT PURDUE (15-10, 5-7): The Boilermakers probably need to win five of their final six regular-season games just to have a shot at the NCAA Tournament, although an NIT bid is probably the more likely scenario at this point. Terone Johnson is the team's leading scorer at 12.2 points and a reliable 3-point shooter at 38 percent, but the senior guard is horrendous from the free-throw line. Johnson is just 54-of-94 from the charity stripe this season, including 0-of-9 over his last six games.TIP-INS1. Prior to his woeful stretch from the foul line, Johnson had been 12-of-14 over his previous three games. 2. In its last three defeats, Michigan State has scored 60, 58 and 51 points - an average of 56.3 per game.3. Since shooting a combined 8-of-12 from 3-point range in back-to-back games last month, Spartans G Gary Harris is 10-of-41 from behind the arc.PREDICTION: Michigan State 64, Purdue 59