MSU's Kyle Ahrens taken off court on stretcher with leg injury; X-rays negative
Chicago — For a brief few minutes, Kyle Ahrens laid on the court clutching his left leg.
Only his sobs pierced the silence that overtook the United Center during the Big Ten tournament championship game between Michigan State and Michigan.
The Spartans junior had just leapt into the air for a rebound and landed on another player’s foot, rolling his left ankle over before crumbling to the ground.
“I felt it pop and I broke my leg several times and I thought it was one of those moments because it hurt worse than when I broke it,” Ahrens said after Michigan States 65-60 win. “I for sure thought I broke it and I was done and …”
Ahrens trailed off, shaking his head finding what happened next almost hard to believe.
After being loaded on a stretcher and thanking coaches and teammates on the way out – the most Kyle Ahrens thing ever – the junior was taken in for X-rays at the arena.
They came back negative for a fracture.
The relief was felt everywhere, from Ahrens to his parents who were courtside and waiting for their son in the tunnel to coach Tom Izzo and Ahrens’ teammates. Izzo and most of the player fought back tears as they crowded around Ahrens, a player who has fought injuries his entire career.
“He thought it was broke and his career was over,” Izzo said. “It’s one of those times you won’t forget in a coaching career. At halftime when he came walking in and it wasn’t broke, it was so uplifting to the players.
“It’s bad. The thing’s like a balloon already, but I think the players … that’s why this team is such a cool team. The all gathered around him. I tried to get them back in the huddle and they told me were to go and I agreed with them.”
Ahrens has been hampered by a bad back all season, just one of many injuries the native of Versailles, Ohio, has dealt with throughout his career. He’s had two broken legs and has had surgery twice on his foot, the last foot injury forcing him to miss the entire 2017-18 season.
Izzo declared Ahrens out for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, but the resilient Ahrens was at least holding out some hope.
“It’s so swollen I thought it was displaced,” Ahrens said. “I don’t know, just take it day-by-day and see how it feels, but it’s huge. It’s the size of a softball. I’ve never really had a sprained ankle like that or I don’t know if it’s ligaments or what it is. I’m just happy these guys clutched it out and were able to get win.”
Izzo said the rallying cry at halftime was to win for Ahrens and Joshua Langford, who has missed most of the season with a broken foot.
“That means the world to me,” Ahrens said. “We all have each other’s back. This is what makes it so special. We’re always going everywhere together, always together no matter what, always have each other’s back, no matter what. We’re brothers for life.”