AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Although the No. 3 seed MSU men’s basketball team cruised to the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in six years, it wasn’t all good news for the Spartans.
After battling knee tendinitis in MSU’s opening NCAA Tournament victory against Valparaiso on Thursday, Appling aggravated a shoulder injury he suffered at the end of a victory against Minnesota in the beginning of February.
Appling left the game with 8:35 remaining and did not return, finishing with two points and two assists on 1-for-4 shooting in 28 minutes of action.
“No idea,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said when asked about Appling’s status. “He said he could have gone back in. I think he could have gone back in on guts alone, which worries me a little bit.”
Izzo said the concern comes from the significantly different response Appling gave when asked about returning to the game, compared to former MSU guard Mateen Cleaves’ emphatic response.
The difference is what leads Izzo to believe Appling was seriously injured.
“I mean, Cleaves threatened me (when he got hurt), so I just said go ahead,” Izzo said. (Appling) didn’t threaten me, you know. He just kind of (said) ‘Can I go, Coach’ you know, and I just didn’t think it was the right time.”
With the score well in hand, Appling said there was no need for him to return to the floor and he’s fully confident he’ll be ready to go in the Spartans’ upcoming Sweet 16 game.
“Oh, yeah, of course, without a doubt in my mind I will be able to play,” Appling said. “I’m a fast healer. It’s nothing that some ice and a little ibuprofen can’t take care of.
“It’s nothing that serious. It’s pretty much the same thing as last time. It’s just reaggravated. I get used to it. I wasn’t surprised that it happened, but it’s still very painful.”