On Saturday, Michigan State reinserted freshman forward Kenny Kaminski into the lineup, missing the previous three games with a suspension, in the Spartans’ 101-48 win over New Orleans.
The fifth-ranked Spartans can get more help to the frontline as sophomore forward Matt Costello is back to practicing with the team. The 6-foot-9 Costello has not played since Michigan State’s home loss to North Carolina on Dec. 4 with what MLive.com reports as a case of mononucleosis.
While he has returned to practice this week, his return to the floor has yet to be determined.
“We’ll be very cautious with him,” Izzo said. “It depends on another blood test and this and that. He’s been given the go-ahead to go up and down (run the full length of the court), almost none in a lot of contact. So we’re not having him do much contact.”
Michigan State kicks off league play on the road against Penn State and Indiana. Both those games might also see Costello sidelined. Costello is averaging 3.4 points, 3.5 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game. Michigan State hasn’t played at full strength for the majority of the month with Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne all battling injuries at one point or another, while Kaminksi’s suspension also cut into the depth.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: