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MSU loses Eron Harris for season with knee injury

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Michigan State teammates surround guard Eron Harris after he was injured Saturday.

Michigan State will be without senior guard Eron Harris for the remainder of the season following what the school called a significant injury suffered to his right knee in Saturday’s loss at Purdue that will require surgery.

Harris was injured when he drove to the basket midway through the second half. When he came down, his right leg buckled and he fell to the floor, screaming in pain.

“We all feel absolutely awful for Eron,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. “As I said last night, I couldn’t ask for more than what Eron has given me and this program. Over the last month he’s grown even more as a leader and been an example to his young teammates. And maybe I didn’t even fully grasp it until I walked on the court and saw the admiration his teammates had for him and the tears in their eyes. There’s no faking the respect they have for Eron as a man, as a player, and most importantly a teammate.”

Harris finishes his career with 1,489 points and was averaging 10.7 points this season, leading Michigan State with 43 made 3-pointers.

The question now for Michigan State is where it goes from here as Harris entered Saturday’s game averaging 23.3 minutes. Izzo could go in a number of directions in the starting lineup, but the Spartans will certainly need increased production from Alvin Ellis and Joshua Langford, as well as Matt McQuaid. It could also lead to more time for Kyle Ahrens, whose been forced to play out of position most of the season because of injuries in the frontcourt.

McQuaid has started 11 games this season but Ellis has been more productive. However, scoring punch off the bench might keep Ellis in his reserve role with McQuaid moving back into the starting lineup.

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What made the injury more difficult for Harris was the fact the Indianapolis native was playing about an hour from home, his last chance to play in his home state with the Spartans.

After Harris hit the floor, his teammates surrounded him as Izzo joined them on the court before Harris was taken off on a stretcher. After the game, he was on crutches.

The former transfer from West Virginia was counted on to be one of Michigan State’s biggest scoring threats this season but was plagued by inconsistency. That, however, did not hurt his standing with his teammates, some, as Izzo said, who were brought to tears.

“It was really difficult,” freshman Miles Bridges said. “He’s like a big brother to me so I’m just praying for him hoping everything goes well. I just gave him a hug.”

Junior Tum Tum Nairn, the leader of the team, talked about how he and Harris have been tight since Harris decided he was transferring to Michigan State before the 2014-15 season.

“My freshman year nobody was a bigger fan of me than he was,” Nairn said. “People go through things every day and I believe those things happen, and we’ve got to take it to a different level. We’ve got to pick him up. This is a hard pill to swallow. Another senior, a great team guy in the last stretch of his senior year. It’s just tough, man.

“I just wish I could take the injury for him.”

The timetable for Harris’ recovery is unclear, but Izzo said he should make a full recovery.

“It’s cruel to see a senior’s career end this way,” Izzo said. “If there is a silver lining, it’s that we expect Eron to be able to make a full recovery and pursue a basketball career after graduation.

“He’s always worked for everything he’s accomplished on the court, and that same passion and mindset will serve him well in his recovery. Basketball is important to all players, but for Eron it was a way of life. Very few have spent more time in this facility or worked harder than Eron has. That’s why I’m confident his best basketball is still in front of him.”

Johns visits Purdue

Forward Brandon Johns of East Lansing was at the Michigan State-Purdue game for an unofficial visit, according to GoldandBlack.com.

The 6-foot-7 junior wing player is the 42nd-ranked player in the nation for 2018, according to 247sports.com, and holds scholarship offers from both Michigan State and Purdue, as well as a handful of other Big Ten teams. Johns is one of the Spartans’ top recruiting targets for 2018, a class that already includes four-star forward Thomas Kithier of Macomb Dakota and three-star guard Foster Loyer of Clarkston.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter @mattcharboneau