Michigan State has managed to be one of the nation's best teams this season despite of flurry of injuries, and they'll now be tested even further.
Spartans junior forward Branden Dawson broke a bone in his hand during a film session Thursday, the school announced, and will have surgery Thursday night. He's expected to miss four to five weeks recovering from the injury.
"It's while I was meeting with a couple teammates and the coaches, and they showed me a couple clips on how I've been playing and what I can do to play even better," Dawson explained in a video on the Detroit Free Press' website. "I kind of got frustrated with myself because I can definitely give more for this team and provide more for this team. We were also watching some video from the Indiana game where (ESPN analyst) Dan Dakich said that our key to winning a national championship is going to come up to me and my intensity and the highest level I play to. So I kind of got frustrated with how I've been playing. I haven't been playing how I know that I can play. And it got frustrating, and I slammed my hand against the table out of frustration."
The news is a huge blow to the Spartans, who are already playing through the absence of Adreian Payne. The big man has missed four straight games while recovering from pain in his foot. Despite Dawson's talk of poor play of late, he is the team's leading rebounder with 8.7 rebounds a game. He's also one of four Spartans averaging double digits in scoring (10.2 points per game).
Dawson played well in Michigan State's most recent game against Indiana, scoring 13 points and hauling in nine rebounds. It snapped a four-game streak of him scoring fewer than 10 points.
The Spartans are currently ranked No. 3 in the country and are one of two teams without a loss in Big Ten play, the other being in-state rival and Saturday opponent Michigan. Michigan State is 18-1 and would be totally undefeated if not for a Big Ten-ACC Challenge hiccup against North Carolina.
But despite all that success, Tom Izzo's crew has seen only three players play in all 19 games. In addition to Payne's injury, Gary Harris has missed three games, Matt Costello has missed four and various other ailments have kept other key players out of the lineup.