It's been an incredible run as of late for Michigan State these last few weeks, and tonight, it all comes to a climactic head.
With a number of recent, sizable Big Ten victories under their belt, including major wins over then-No. 18 Minnesota, away in Madison to top Wisconsin, and a complete trouncing of arch-rival Michigan, you wouldn't think that many of the key Spartan players have been suffering from a number of crippling injuries; but in actuality, that's been the case.
Freshman guard and Freshman of the Year-hopeful, Gary Harris - despite the incredible numbers he's been putting up as of late - has been the victim of a sore back for more than a week. Yet, incredibly, the talented young star is still finding ways to make an impact for his team, though he told reporters on Monday that he is feeling much better.
“I feel pretty good,” Harris said concerning his injury. “My back feels a lot better than it did the last few games. My shoulders, it’s something I don’t even think about anymore.”
This comes as welcome news, considering that No. 4 Michigan State (22-4, 11-2 Big Ten) is preparing to suit up tonight for their rematch against the top-ranked Indiana (23-3, 11-2) in East Lansing. On Jan. 27, the Hoosiers narrowly-survived a close call at the hands of the Spartans down home in Bloomington, Ind., winning the game 75-70.
As for sophomore Travis Trice, who has been sidelined for four-straight games with concussion-like symptoms, the immediate outlook may not be as positive as it is with Harris, but it is definitely improving. MSU head coach Tom Izzo has certainly felt the stinging absence of Trice lately on the offensive end of the court, and his return would be an emotional and physical boost for the Spartans looking to impress before the start of the NCAA tournament. Still, his return tonight for MSU's battle with the Hoosiers is, as coach Izzo puts it, highly, highly-unlikely.
“What do they say in football? (Trice is) very, very doubtful, but possible,” Izzo said.
Finally, to round out the good news for Michigan State is the announcement of the full-return of sophomore Branden Dawson, who suffered an ankle injury against Nebraska on Saturday night. Dawson also took a brutal shot to the mouth in last week's 75-52 blowout over the Wolverines. Dawson, Izzo adds, will be crucial if the Spartans are to have a decent shot at toppling the top team in the nation.
“We need (Dawson) at a high level,” Izzo said.
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