East Lansing — Tom Izzo said if you would have told him before Wednesday's game against Eastern Michigan that Michigan State would win by 20 points, he would have been as "happy as 10 men."
But it was difficult for Izzo to have those types of emotions after No. 25 Michigan State's 66-46 victory over Eastern Michigan at the Breslin Center. That's because early in the second half, senior forward Branden Dawson left the game with a left wrist injury and did not return to the game.
"I keep thinking when someone asks where my team is at and every time I feel good about it something else goes wrong," Izzo said. "It's just a bad sprain so far and he'll be re-evaluated (Thursday). But it takes the wind out of your sails a bit with the way we were going."
The injury looked nasty at first. As Dawson was going to the basket to dunk the ball, he was fouled and came down hard with his left wrist bending awkwardly underneath his body. He rolled on the floor in pain and pounded the court with his right hand.
Izzo said he had preliminary X-rays but there would be more extensive testing to come.
"I don't know what the deal will be," Izzo said. "He's gonna miss some time, there's no question about that, we just don't know how much."
MSU coach Tom Izzo on Eastern Michigan and Branden Dawson
While this injury is more to the wrist, it was the same left hand that Dawson broke last season, missing nine games during Big Ten play before returning in late February. It was Dawson's play that sparked Michigan State late in the season, leading to a Big Ten tournament championship and an appearance in the Elite Eight.
On Wednesday, he was playing well and even reached 1,000 points for his career when he made a pair of free throws in the opening minutes of the game.
Dawson didn't speak to reporters but was in the locker room after the game talking to teammates.
"I just felt bad for him," Izzo said. "I really did. He's been practicing harder and it looked like everything was coming together. He had a real tough class this semester that he did all right in and he's a couple of classes from graduating. It was kind of a big day where we found out a lot of things. He's been doing such a great job in practice and I thought he was a big key out there.
"I feel for him. I love that kid and I don't think it's anything real serious, I really don't. But the setback will be hard on him, hard on us and now we'll have time to practice. We can look at it as other guys will get a chance to be ready, but I felt bad for BJ. That was painful. I saw the tape and it wasn't pretty. But he's tougher than nails so maybe he'll bounce back."
Aside from the injury to Dawson, it was a fairly successful night for the Spartans (8-3). They handled the Eagles' zone well for most of the game and held Eastern Michigan to 22.6 percent shooting, including 18.2 percent (4-for-22) from 3-point range.
Bryn Forbes scored 14 points and Travis Trice had 13 points and six assists. Marvin Clark added 11 points and six rebounds while Denzel Valentine had only five points but dished out eight assists and had seven rebounds. Matt Costello added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Spartans.
Raven Lee scored 12 to lead Eastern Michigan (8-2), which has now lost two of its last three after opening the season with seven straight victories and were coming off a victory at Michigan last week.
"Any time you lose it's extremely tough," Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy said. "Michigan State did a great job defensively on us, taking away our first few actions on offense. Defensively they were very sound and some of our struggles on offense forced us into being stagnant defensively."
Michigan State hosts Texas Southern on Saturday and The Citadel on Monday before taking eight days off prior to the start of Big Ten play against Maryland.
And while most of the focus over the next few days will be the status of Dawson, Izzo is still taking plenty out of Wednesday's game.
"We got a lot out of this game because it was against a quality team," Izzo said. "Don't fool yourself. This was against a team that is very, very difficult to play and we did a pretty good job.
But even with the win over an improving Eastern Michigan team, it didn't take much to know exactly what Izzo was thinking about.
"Everything looked OK, so maybe it's just a bad sprain," Izzo said of Dawson. "It is on the left hand and that is encouraging. I hope to God he's OK and I think he'll be OK, but I'm sure he's gonna miss some time."