Michigan State big man Nick Ward suffers fracture in left hand, out indefinitely
Ward has played a big role for the Spartans, averaging career highs in points scored and minutes played this season
There's good news and bad news, Michigan State fans.
Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo initially believed Ward "might have dislocated a finger or something" in his postgame remarks Sunday, but a closer examination by medical staff revealed that the junior big man sustained a hairline fracture of his left hand. He's expected to be re-evaluated on a weekly basis, and while there's no definitive timeline for his return, MSU hopes he can return before the end of the season.
Ward is the second-leading scorer, third-leading rebounder and third-leading shot-blocker for the 21-5 Spartans. He's played an integral role in their rise to the top of the Big Ten standings this season.
With Ward out, MSU will likely turn to sophomore Xavier Tillman to carry the load at center, and rely more heavily on Kenny Goins, who scored 10 points and grabbed 10 boards on Sunday in an expanded role.
But replacing Ward altogether is a task unlikely to be feasible for Izzo and Michigan State. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward has been an invaluable inside presence this season, and his physicality and toughness on the interior further complicates MSU's increasingly difficult task of winning the conference.
Ward joins fellow junior Joshua Langford among those who are injured for MSU. Langford is believed to be out for the season, though it seems the door is being left open -- for now -- for a potential return for Ward, who is averaging 15.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game on the season.
Michigan State is 21-5 overall and 12-3 in the Big Ten on the season.
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