East Lansing — Injuries and sickness nearly caught up with Michigan State on Tuesday when it lost a 17-point second-half lead before rallying to knock off No. 3 Ohio State in overtime.
At practice Thursday, senior guard Keith Appling and sophomore Gary Harris were both going 100 percent, but the same couldn’t be said for senior Adreian Payne and junior guard Travis Trice.
Payne, who did not start against Ohio State but played nearly 32 minutes and scored 18 points, is nursing a sore right foot and did not take part in most of practice, only shooting a few free throws. Trice, who has the flu, was not at practice and hasn’t taken part since the team returned from Indiana last weekend.
And, coach Tom Izzo didn’t sound confident either would be ready Saturday when Michigan State hosts Minnesota.
“I’ve not seen Trice,” Izzo said. “I called him this morning and he was still in bed. I have not seen him. He is supposed to be coming by tonight.
“A.P. is very questionable,” Izzo said. “Of course, I would have said it was 99 percent he wasn’t going to play (against Ohio State). It’s nothing bad. He’s structurally fine. He’s just sore and it swelled up a little bit, which is normal. We’re not concerned about anything long term or serious, but these short-term ones are starting to eat at me a little bit.
“Trice, they did mono tests, they did all the tests you could do, he just has the flu bug, is sick, he’s tired, achy. All the bad things have been ruled out, so it’s bizarre.”
Trice’s absence was especially tough for Appling, who was cramping late in the first half and forced to fight through it as the Spartans simply had no other player to run the point. Not only was Trice out, but Denzel Valentine struggled and fouled out.
Harris, who has missed three games with a sprained ankle, is nearly 100 percent, but wasn’t in shape to play the 42 minutes he did.
“It’s been tough,” Harris said. “We didn’t think AP would play and we’ve been without Trice for about a week. Some guys had to play more and others were forced to step up, which is good until we get everyone back healthy.”
After the game, Izzo was upset with the fact his team nearly lost, and said it likely would take him a day to appreciate the win over a top-five team that came in undefeated.
He admitted Thursday he wasn’t taking things so hard, but understood how much his team was limited.
“I do think part of it is give (Ohio State) credit; they played hard,” Izzo said. “But Appling just couldn’t move, so you wonder why he didn’t get open or anything on that fast break. It was partly them, but him and Harris were walking on their elbows, so that was a little bit of the problem.
“I feel a hair better about it, but it just goes to prove that we’re not where we need to be at No. 1, but the Trice thing really hurt us because we needed another ballhandling guard in there.”
One player who no longer is ailing is sophomore Matt Costello, who missed four games with mononucleosis before returning against Penn State.
He played 12 minutes against Ohio State, and admitted he was feeling the effects.
“I’m getting there,” he said. “After the Ohio State game I kind of took a step back. I’m still trying to get there to 100 percent. It will probably be another week or two, but I’ll keep working for it.”
Izzo said he is going to be careful not to push Costello too hard and has the luxury of having depth up front, mixing in Alex Gauna and Gavin Schilling along with Kenny Kaminski.
“Costello is definitely getting better, but even as late as practice two days before the last game he said, ‘I’m done with practice and I’m going home and going to bed.’ ” Izzo said. “And I worry with a daughter that had a relapse of it, so we’re not pushing the envelope too hard but he is definitely getting some spring back and now he’s just got to get all his gears back and that’s gonna get better and better for us.”