Michigan State v Penn State

Broken hand to sideline Michigan State’s Branden Dawson 4-5 weeks


The hits just keep on coming for No. 3 Michigan State, which can’t seem to stay healthy.

On Thursday it was revealed that forward Branden Dawson will miss four to five weeks after breaking a bone in his right (shooting) hand. And the injury didn’t occur during game action either, as according to the report Dawson slammed his hand down in frustration while watching film with the team this morning.

With Dawson now out the Spartans could be without two starters on Saturday night when they host in-state rival Michigan, who is also undefeated in Big Ten play. Adreian Payne has missed the last four games due to an injured foot and could miss a fifth if his foot isn’t deemed to be 100%.

With this being the situation that head coach Tom Izzo and his players have to deal with, another issue to consider is the team’s on-court chemistry as we move closer to March.

With senior forward Adreian Payne in danger of missing his fifth straight game with a sprained right foot, MSU is as shorthanded as it has been this season, for its biggest game to date.

And considering the uncertainty about the return of both starting players, the Spartans might be hard-pressed to jell as hoped for a March run to the national title. It’s possible Dawson won’t be back until close to the postseason.

Five Spartans have missed at least one game due to injury this season and a sixth, Kenny Kaminsky, has missed time due to suspension. And while Michigan State has managed to win 18 of its 19 games to date, there’s still that chemistry issue to consider with an eye towards tournament time.

But in the immediate future how will Michigan State account for the loss of Dawson? They’ll likely have to go small with there being more available perimeter players than big men at this point in time. And in regards to the remaining front court players, Kaminsky, Matt Costello and even freshman Gavin Schilling will be asked to do more while Dawson and Payne work to return to full strength.

Michigan State’s managed to navigate many of the issues they’ve faced this season, and they’ll need to continue to do so with Dawson sidelined.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Denzel Valentine, the nation’s best player?

Denzel Valentine
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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(This will be updated throughout the day.)

GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 74, No. 25 Texas A&M 67

The Orange got 20 points from Michael Gbinije and 15 points and five assists from Trevor Cooney as they won the Battle 4 Atlantis title on Friday afternoon. We wrote on this game earlier. Are the Orange for real this year?


Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: 32 points, nine boards, six assists

No. 3 Michigan State beat Boise State 77-67 in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy out in California, but the result of that game is less important than the result of Valentine’s night. A night after notching his second triple-double of the season, Valentine took over another way on Friday, hitting five straight threes in the span of about five minutes to put the Spartans up double-figures in a game they were struggling to take control of.

In three games against high-major competition, Valentine is now averaging 30.0 points, 10.7 boards and 9.3 assists. He has been, unequivocally, the best player in college basketball this season.

No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 17 UConn 70: Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis made some big plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on to win a game they led by as much as 21 in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer scored a team-best 17 points for Gonzaga, which finished third at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Rob Dauster wrote more about the Bulldogs and their second-half performance here.

Alabama 64, No. 20 Wichita State 60: Not only did the Shockers drop their second straight at the AdvoCare Invitational, but they also saw Anton Grady leave the game on a stretcher after being involved in a scary second-half collision. He was awake and alert shortly after leaving the court. While the Shockers’ losses to USC and Alabama don’t help them from an NCAA tournament standpoint, the bigger issue is the team’s health.


Quincy Ford, Northeastern: Not only did he score 24 points in the upset win over No. 15 Miami, but he hit the game-winning jumper, too. Video here.


Wichita State’s bigs: Five of them (Anton Grady, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Bush Wakumota, Eric Hamilton) finished a combined 3-for-21 from the floor with 14 points and 14 fouls. Wakumota shot one of the worst threes you’ll ever see with Wichita State down 62-60 with 10 seconds left.

Grady suffered a scary neck injury late in the game, but early reports sound positive.


  • Jamal Murray went for 21 points and three assists without a turnover at No. 1 Kentucky rolled over South Florida. The big question: How bad is Tyler Ulis’ elbow injury?
  • Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart both had 13 points as No. 8 Villanova knocked off Georgia Tech to win the Preseason NIT, 69-52.
  • No. 23 Xavier raced out of the gates against USC and led by as much as 32, going on to win 87-77 in Orlando. Trevon Bluiett led four Musketeers in double figures with 16 points and James Farr added 12 to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.


  • Stanford finished third at the Preseason NIT with a 69-66 win over Arkansas, closing the game on a stunning 21-1 run. Rosco Allen scored eight of his career-high 25 points during that run, and Marcus Allen’s goal-tended layup with 2.6 seconds remaining gave the Cardinal the lead for good.
  • Taurean Waller-Prince had 25 points to lead Baylor to a win over Arkansas State.

Good luck Goodluck: UNLV’s Okonoboh to transfer

Goodluck Okonoboh
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UNLV sophomore Goodluck Okonoboh is transferring out of the program, a source told NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-10 center was the No. 31 recruit in the Class of 2014, but he never was able to find a place in the UNLV rotation. He averaged 2.9 blocks as a freshman, but is a career 34 percent free throw shooter that never proved he could be more than just an athlete.

With Ben Carter getting eligible and UNLV landing Stephen Zimmerman this season, Okonoboh’s minutes dried up. He played just 19 minutes total against UCLA and Indiana.