Dawson expected to play Saturday

Tom Izzo has "no clue" how much the forward will play, but he will be available when the Spartans play Illinois.

Come Saturday, Michigan State figures to have its whole team back in the lineup for the first time since early January.

Forward Branden Dawson, the final piece of the Spartans' injury puzzle, has returned to practice for the Spartans and will play Saturday against Illinois at Breslin Center.

"He has had a couple (practices) doing some of the stuff, but he should practice 90% full tonight," coach Tom Izzo said. "The good news is that when we play this weekend it is March."

Dawson has missed nine games – in which the Spartans are 4-5 – after breaking his right hand slamming a table during a film season leading up to the Spartans' loss to Michigan on Jan. 25 in East Lansing.

For the Spartans, who have gotten Adreian Payne and Keith Appling back recently, having the junior forward back will help Izzo get the long-desired rotation in place.

Michigan State has been without one or more of its starters for the greater part of Big Ten play – and occasionally before that, as well.

"Even though Dawson has been limited in practice" Izzo said, "at least we have had some time to work on our sets or timing issues that are so hard and that is what is probably going to take the most time."

But when the ball is tipped against Illinois on Saturday, Dawson will be available for the first time in more than a month.

"He is going to play with a little bit of a brace on," Izzo said. "It doesn't seem like it affects a lot of things, but it is there. How much will I play him? I have no clue, but I may know more about that today and tomorrow."

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