With Branden Dawson returning, Michigan State may be getting healthy in time for March

For the first time since a Jan. 4 victory at Indiana, Michigan State will finally have its full complement of players available again on Sunday.

The Spartans just won't be at full strength yet.

More than a month after breaking his right hand when he slammed it in frustration while watching game film of a Jan. 25 loss to Michigan, starting forward Branden Dawson is practicing again. The junior is expected to return to the court in a limited capacity Saturday against Illinois.

"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 told the Detroit Free Press. "How much I play him, I have no clue. I might know a little more today and tomorrow."

Whether Michigan State ever gets fully healthy could be what determines if it's a threat to win a national championship next month.

In addition to Dawson's absence, point guard Keith Appling continues to battle a wrist injury that has bothered him much of the season. Appling has averaged only three points in the three games since he sat out games against Penn State, Wisconsin and Northwestern in early February.

Adreian Payne's return has helped Michigan State stay afloat, but the flurry of injuries has caught up with the Spartans recently. They've lost five of nine and they haven't won two in a row Jan. 18 and 21 against Illinois and Indiana.

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