“We were sitting there and I thought about (having a full team) coming out of the huddle, like everyone is out there with JB and Alvin and then BJ goes down,” senior Travis Trice said. “He will be back soon, so we are not worried about him missing out at all.”
The injury looked nasty initially, as the MSU forward went up to dunk the ball, but came down hard with his left wrist taking plenty of the force. He was visibly in pain on the court for a few minutes before leaving the court. He later returned to the bench with an ice pack around his left wrist.
After the game, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said it appears the injury is a “bad sprain” and while he does not think it will be anything serious, he expects Dawson to miss some time.
”They will re-evaluate it (Thursday),” Izzo said. “It takes the wind out of your sails a little bit.”
It was Dawson last year who added wind to the sails of the Spartans after returning from a broken right hand, sparking a Big Ten Tournament championship run and an Elite 8 berth.
On Wednesday, he broke the 1,000-point mark in his career with a pair of free throws in the first half and followed it up with a massive dunk in the open court – something of the norm for Dawson.
”I feel for him, I love the kid,” Izzo said. “I don't think it's going to be anything really serious. It's just these setbacks are hard on him, hard on us. I guess we can kind of look at it now like we can get a few more guys ready. I feel bad for BJ. That looked painful. I saw the tape and that didn't look pretty, but he is tougher than nails, so maybe he'll bounce back.”
Aside from the injury, it was a successful night for Michigan State, which found ways to attack Eastern Michigan’s tough zone defense and held the Eagles to 22.1 percent shooting on the other end.
Junior Bryn Forbes, who broke the 1,000-point mark in the Spartans’ last game, led the way with 14 points. He had two big shots shortly after Dawson’s injury to extend the Michigan State lead when he hit a long two and then a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions. Trice tallied 13 points, hitting his first three 3-point attempts on his way to what Izzo said was his best game.
”After thinking through it, I just felt good,” Trice said. “I was just happy for our team really. Getting a guy like JB back, Zel played a really good game. He really helped us break that zone with how he was in the middle and getting guys involved.
”When Bryn shoots like that, it is tough to play a zone. I was more happy with the team effort.”
Marvin Clark chipped in 11 points and Matt Costello added 10 to go with nine rebounds. It was not the best scoring night for Denzel Valentine, who had just five points, but he had eight assists and seven rebounds.
It was the effort of the Spartans defensively, though, which impressed Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy.
”Michigan State did a great job defending us and taking away our first few actions on offense,” Murphy said. “Defensively, they were very sound. I thought we did a poor job early on of guarding the three-point line; that's not our character. The struggles on offense forced us into being stagnant defensively.”
But in spite of the solid effort for Michigan State, it was clear where the focus was after the game as they are facing being without Dawson for an undetermined amount of time.
“It will change a lot,” Valentine said. “He is so multitalented and he does a lot of things for us. He is out, it’s a bummer, but hopefully he gets back. It’s his left hand, so he can still use his right hand. Hopefully, he gets ready for Big Ten.”