Bryce Cartwright, Kevin Dillard

Dayton point guard Kevin Dillard out indefinitely with back spasms

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There’s no denying the importance of senior point guard Kevin Dillard to the Dayton Flyers, as Dillard leads the 8-3 Flyers in both points (15.0 ppg) and assists (4.1 apg).

Unfortunately for head coach Archie Miller, he may be without the services of Dillard for a little while as the Southern Illinois transfer is out indefinitely due to back spasms.

The injury occurred with 4:19 remaining in Dayton’s 74-73 loss to Illinois State on Wednesday night, when a simple rebound triggered the back issue. Unable to bring the ball up the court, Dillard would leave the game and not return.

“He’s not feeling real well,” Miller said on Thursday night according to Doug Harris of the Dayton Daily News. “I think it will be a longshot for him to play on Saturday. He’s dealing with a heavy dose of back spasms, and he has a hard time right now moving around.

“Anything from the back pretty much paralyzes you when it locks up. You muscles go into spasm, and at that point, you can’t really move. It’s very, very painful. It’s going to take some time to address the situation.”

Miller also noted following Thursday’s practice that the injury came more as a result of the contact Dillard takes on his many drives to the basket, an aspect of his game the Flyers need in order to be successful. And with a back injury, nailing down a concrete timetable can be difficult.

“It’s probably more of a muscle thing or an alignment thing or taking some pounding,” Miller said. “Any time you kind of get out of line, anything can spasm out on you. It could be a week. It could be two weeks. Hopefully, in the bigger picture, we don’t want anything to be lingering. We’re trying to be cautious right now.”

The injury means that Dillard will miss Saturday’s home game against Murray State, one the Flyers need in regards to both avoiding an 0-2 week and adding a solid win to their resume.

His absence means that freshman Khari Price sees more of Isaiah Canaan than originally anticipated, and Dayton may also use Vee Sanford at the point on occasion.

Following Saturday’s contest the Flyers visit USC and host UAB before beginning the most important portion of their schedule on January 9 when they open Atlantic 10 play at VCU. And given the Rams’ “havoc” style of play it’s extremely important to have a healthy point guard running the show.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.