Injuries might sideline Harris, Trice

The bench continues to shrink for the No. 12 MSU men’s basketball team.

After battling the injury bug earlier this season, freshman guard Gary Harris and sophomore guard Travis Trice both left Thursday’s 80-75 win against Illinois with a new set of ailments.

Trice took a shot to the head in the first half against the Fighting Illini and did not return to the bench for the second half of action. MSU head coach Tom Izzo said it has not been determined if Trice suffered a concussion, and he did not practice with the team Monday.

Justin Wan / The State News

Harris also left Thursday’s game in the second half with back spasms but participated in several team drills Monday.

Both players are questionable to play in Wednesday’s game with No. 18 Minnesota (7 p.m., Big Ten Network), though Harris insists he would like to play.

“I couldn’t do everything in practice today,” Harris said. “Just kind of taking it easy and not jumping right back into things and hoping I can do more tomorrow, and it’ll feel better on Wednesday.”

The duo already have been shaken up this season, forcing Izzo to turn to MSU’s other role players on an already depleted roster.

Harris sprained his left shoulder in a November 2012 game against Boise State, and his right shoulder briefly popped out in a team practice before the Dec. 22 victory over Texas.

In 20 games this season, Harris leads all Big Ten freshmen and is second on the team in scoring with 12.8 points per contest.

The injury to Trice potentially is more concerning, as the Huber Heights, Ohio native nearly missed the first three weeks of the year after suffering a concussion and a broken nose in the team’s regular season opener against Connecticut.

Trice was not made available for comment Monday.

Izzo said losing two of the team’s top shooters could make the road in the Big Ten much more difficult for MSU, as he expects it would for any team in the same circumstance.

“If those two guys aren’t playing for any extended period of time we’re in trouble,” Izzo said. “But Michigan’s in trouble, Indiana’s in trouble, everybody’s in trouble if two of your better shooters, better players aren’t playing, I don’t expect that.

“That can decimate anybody’s season.”

With the two players’ previous struggles with injuries this year, the impact can be seen and felt in the rotation on the practice floor. Having already lost sophomore guard Brandan Kearney in December when he left the team to transfer to Arizona State, the injuries force the team to turn to others such as freshman Denzel Valentine and sophomore Russell Byrd for quality minutes.

Sophomore guard/forward Branden Dawson said the team practiced well Monday, but certainly missed the abilities of Harris and Trice.

“We kind of missed those guys because they’re two of our best shooters, but during the season, those guys have kind of been up and down,” Dawson said. “First, Gary had the shoulder injury and then Travis had the concussion, so without those guys — they’re two main aspects to this team.”

With five of the team’s final nine games coming against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, Izzo said his team will need to patch a roster together until his two guards are ready for a healthy return.

“We’re just gonna piece it and grind it and try to get through it whatever way we get through it,” he said. “I don’t have the answers because I don’t know who’s gonna be there but when somebody’s not there, it’s somebody else’s opportunity.”

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