Michigan State sophomore Gary Harris has a message for all of those who think he's not playing his best basketball.

You're right.

"I'm just self-evaluating myself, and I'm not playing the way I know I can play,'' said Harris, the Big Ten's Preseason Player of the Year. "I'm not making enough shots, I'm missing shots I normally make, my percentages are down, and my defense hasn't been the way it's supposed to be.

"I'm not satisfied with the way I'm playing, and I'm looking to improve.''

Spartans coach Tom Izzo said he was caught off-guard when learning Harris had given the Big Ten Network a self-evaluation grade of C-plus.

"I asked him, `why did you do that,' '' Izzo said following Thursday's practice at Breslin Center. "He said, `because I don't think I'm playing good.' You look at his percentages, I think he's taken a few bad shots and he can get better shots, but his mid-range game is really improving.''

But Izzo thinks Harris might be grading himself a little hard.

"I talked to him today about it, and some guys think they are better than they are, and some guys don't think they are as good as they are,'' Izzo said. "Defensively, (Wednesday night at Northwestern) was the best I saw him moving, and that second half he was everywhere.''

The No. 4-ranked Spartans (16-1, 5-0 Big Ten) beat the Wildcats 54-40 and will finish their Land of Lincoln run at Illinois (13-5, 2-3) at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Izzo said he's ready to see Harris take over games.

Harris leads Michigan State with 17.6 points per game, but his shooting percentages from the floor are less than ideal, as he's shooting just 30.8 percent from 3-point range despite taking more than twice as many treys (104) than anyone on the team except Keith Appling (61), who's hitting at a 45.9-percent clip.

Even sidelined big man Adreian Payne is shooting better from beyond the 3-point line (43.9 percent) than Harris.

Harris leads the team with an impressive 84.8-percent shooting from the free-throw line. But the former Indiana Mr. Basketball had an inexplicable mental lapse that put Michigan State's game with Minnesota last Saturday in jeopardy, missing two free throws in the final moments that enabled the Gophers to send the game into overtime.

In fairness to Harris, he has been sidelined on two occasions by an ankle injury, and he's still working to find his basketball equilibrium.

While shooting straight with his player, Izzo has not lost the slightest bit of confidence in Harris.

"I told him today he's got to start taking over games. He's good enough to do it,'' Izzo said. "Sometimes on his threes, he's a little far out; our break hasn't been the same in a while, and once we get that going that will help him.''