East Lansing — The hits keep coming for Michigan State.
Already playing without guard Joshua Langford, who could miss the entire season, coach Tom Izzo said Friday that freshman guard Rocket Watts is dealing with a lower-leg injury that will keep him out of Sunday’s Big Ten opener against Rutgers and potentially next weekend’s game on Dec. 14 when No. 11 Michigan State (5-3) takes on Oakland at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
“He’s got a little stress reaction on a bone that is a non-weight bearing,” Izzo said after practice. “It’s nothing that's going to be a lengthy period of time, but it just drops that two-guard thing down one more spot.”
Izzo said the injury has been bothering Watts for the last few weeks, though it hasn’t limited his playing time. The 6-foot-2 guard has started all eight games, averaging 22.6 minutes a game. He's had a tough time shooting, making just 27.4% of his shots while shooting 20.7% from 3-point range, good for an average of 6.5 points a game.
Sophomore Gabe Brown is likely to join the starting lineup with he and sophomore Aaron Henry on the wings and senior Cassius Winston at the point. Brown is averaging eight points in just less than 22 minutes. It will also likely mean more minutes for fifth-year senior Kyle Ahrens, who was limited early in the season with an ankle injury.
“I'm still a little sad because my brother went down,” Brown said. “That's one more player that's down and you never want to see somebody go down. But I’m gonna step up. I’m gonna step up for him, step up for the team and step up for myself.”