Report: Branden Dawson likely to play Saturday for Michigan State

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Branden Dawson is averaging 10.2 points and a team-high 8.7 rebounds. (USATSI)

Michigan State is finally getting closer to something resembling a healthy team. Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday afternoon that junior Spartans forward Branden Dawson is back to practicing with MSU.

That means he'll probably be available to play Saturday for Michigan State's home game against Illinois. Dawson has sat out the previous nine games with a fractured right hand, an injury that reportedly occured after Dawson slammed his hand on a table during a team film session following the Jan. 25 home loss to Michigan.

The Spartans have been up and down since, failing to win or lose two games in a row since their 11-game winning streak ended at the hands of the Wolverines on Jan. 25.

"He's gonna play with a little bit of a brace on that doesn't seem like it affects a lot of things, but it still is there," [Spartans coach Tom] Izzo said of Dawson. "How much I play him, I have no clue. I might know a little more today and tomorrow."
The Spartans (22-6, 11-4 Big Ten) were 4-5 without Dawson. If he plays and no one else misses the game unexpectedly, it'll be MSU's first game with everyone since a Jan. 4 win at Indiana. Dawson practiced on a limited basis Tuesday and Wednesday, and Izzo said he expects him to take part in "90 percent" of practice tonight.

Michigan State was once considered a national title favorite. Some still believe they have the talent to win it all -- if the team is fully healthy. But Keith Appling is also hampered with a wrist issue, and it remains to be seen how much that will affect the starting senior point guard's game going forward.

The Spartans are placed as a No. 4 seed in's most recent bracketology.

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