Gary Harris (AP)
An MRI result taken Wednesday offered good news for Michigan State: Gary Harris' right shoulder injury is just a sprain.
Michigan State announced Wednesday that Harris will miss two to three weeks after tests did not reveal any further damage in the shoulder he hurt the previous night against Boise State.
"It's a shame. Gary was playing so well, and then he goes down with a freak injury," coach Tom Izzo said in a released statement. "We need to get him back as soon as his injury allows, but he is one of our toughest players. I know he'll work as hard as he can on the rehab so that he can get back on the court."
Not having Harris until mid-December is a far better scenario than the worst-case scenario Izzo painted after Tuesday's game. Asked how long Harris could be sidelined, Izzo said Harris would miss at least two weeks and could be out "a lot, lot, lot, lot longer."
Harris sustained the injury when he took a hard hit on a pick in the opening 30 seconds of Michigan State's come-from-behind 74-70 win against Boise State. Izzo was not especially pleased with the pick, calling it illegal after the game.
"I'm not saying it was a flagrant foul," Izzo told reporters, "but it was a good hit. He got hit pretty good on a moving screen and knocked it out."
Losing Harris is a blow to a Michigan State team that relies on him to provide perimeter offense. Harris, a five-star recruit who chose the Spartans over the likes of Indiana, Purdue and Louisville, is a slashing guard who scored 18 points against Kansas and 19 against Texas-Southern in Michigan State's two previous games.
While Michigan State has other perimeter weapons between point guard Keith Appling and wings Branden Dawson and Denzel Valentine, the absence of Harris was impactful against Boise State. The Spartans had to rally from a 61-56 deficit with eight minutes to go to escape with a four-point win.
Michigan State started a small lineup Tuesday with Harris and Valentine at the wings, Dawson playing power forward and Derrick Nix as the lone big man. With Harris no longer available for the time being, Michigan State could either shift Dawson to wing and insert Adreian Payne at power forward or keep the small lineup with someone like veteran Travis Trice taking Harris' place at shooting guard.