MSU's Cassius Winston, Xavier Tillman, Aaron Henry and Kenny Goins met the media Saturday, ahead of Sunday's Elite Eight game against Duke. The Detroit News
Washington — As Michigan State and Duke gets set to square off for a spot in the Final Four, both teams have some questions as to the status of key players in the rotation.
For Michigan State, it surrounds center Nick Ward.
The 6-foot-9 junior slammed his surgically repaired left hand on the floor against LSU on Friday night while battling for a rebound. He left the game and X-Rays were negative.
It was sore on Saturday morning, but Ward said he should be OK to play when No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Michigan State tip off at 5:05 p.m. Sunday in the East Region finals at Capital One Arena.
“My hand's doing good,” Ward said. “It was bruised. I'll be fine. It's a day-by-day type thing. But I'll be fine.”
Ward injured the hand Feb. 17 against Ohio State and had surgery that night. He missed the next five games before returning for the Big Ten tournament.
He played 20 minutes last weekend against Minnesota, scoring nine points and grabbing seven rebounds. In Friday’s win over LSU, Ward played 15 minutes before leaving the game with just less than seven minutes to play, finishing with four points and five rebounds.
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“Nothing is going to keep me off the court tomorrow,” said Ward, who was icing the hand after practice on Saturday. “And my first thought when I landed on the hand was just make sure everything's all right. My trainers, Nick (Richey) and doc took me back and made sure everything was cool and everything looks good.
Duke's Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Tre Jones met with reporters Saturday and talked about facing MSU in the NCAA Tournament for a spot in the Final Four. The game is Sunday night. The Detroit News
“So, basically this morning it was sore. It was sore. But I expected that. It's more a day-by-day type feel.”
As for Duke, the uncertainty surrounds 6-8 freshman Cam Reddish.
He missed Friday’s win over Virginia Tech because of a sore knee. Aside from missing a game against Syracuse in January because of sickness, Reddish had started in every game this season.
“It will be a game-time decision,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He's getting treatment today. We've really not been on the court yet. And after we stretch and — we're not going to really do anything physical today; we've got to be careful. But just to see how he feels.
“And we'll see. If he's progressed, we might try to get him to shoot, but we haven't done that yet.”
Reddish, who is averaging 13.6 points and 3.6 rebounds a game, said the knee has been bothering him on and off for at least a couple months. He said he “tweaked” it during practice the day before Duke played Virginia Tech in the regional semifinals.
“He's had a little bit of problem with his knee,” Krzyzewski said. “It's not structural — nothing structural. And a jumper's knee, a tendonitis. I guess there are a number of different things. At different times it can inhibit you, or you feel pretty good and then you can play. Or you can work yourself through it. But yesterday we weren't able to do that.”
Reddish didn’t give a guess on whether he’d be ready to face Michigan State.
“We have a great staff here and I’m trying to get back as soon as I possibly can,” Reddish said. “I feel better today.
"The swelling is going down a little bit and I hope I can play tomorrow.
“I’ll do everything I possibly can to play tomorrow.”
NO. 2 MICHIGAN STATE VS. NO. 1 DUKE
Tip-off: 5:05 p.m., Sunday, Capital One Arena, Washington
Records: Michigan State 31-6; Duke 32-5
Next up: Winner advances to Final Four and will face Texas Tech