Michigan State’s Eron Harris out for season, knee injury will require surgery
If Michigan State is going to extend its streak of consecutive NCAA tournaments to 20, the Spartans will have to do it without the lone senior in their starting five.
They lost starting shooting guard Eron Harris on Saturday afternoon to a “significant” right knee injury that will require season-ending surgery, according to an official release from the program.
“We all feel absolutely awful for Eron,” Tom Izzo said in a statement Sunday. “As I said last night, I couldn’t ask for more than what Eron has given me and this program. Over the last month he’s grown even more as a leader and been an example to his young teammates. And maybe I didn’t even fully grasp it until I walked on the court and saw the admiration his teammates had for him and the tears in their eyes. There’s no faking the respect they have for Eron as a man, as a player, and most importantly a teammate.”
With nine minutes left in Michigan State’s 80-63 loss at Purdue, Harris drove baseline, went up for a shot in traffic in the paint and came down awkwardly on his right leg. Harris crumpled to the ground howling in pain and left the floor strapped to a stretcher as his teammates looked on with somber faces and tear-stained eyes.
Harris underwent an MRI and other “diagnostic evaluation” on Saturday night, and the tests revealed a “significant” injury that will require surgery.
“It’s cruel to see a senior’s career end this way,” Izzo continued. “If there is a silver lining, it’s that we expect Eron to be able to make a full recovery and pursue a basketball career after graduation. He’s always worked for everything he’s accomplished on the court, and that same passion and mindset will serve him well in his recovery. Basketball is important to all players, but for Eron it was a way of life. Very few have spent more time in this facility or worked harder than Eron has. That’s why I’m confident his best basketball is still in front of him.”
Losing Harris for the rest of the season is a big blow to Michigan State even though the former West Virginia transfer hasn’t exactly been consistent during his tenure with the Spartans. Harris averages 11.1 points per game, but has four games with 20 or more points and seven others with five or fewer.
In Harris’ absence, freshman wing Josh Langford, senior Alvin Ellis III and sophomore Matt McQuaid are likely to divvy up his 23.3 minutes per game. Ellis is shooting a team-best 42.7 percent from behind the arc this season, while McQuaid has a reputation as a shooter but has only hit 32.6 percent of his threes this season.
Replacing Harris will be critical for Michigan State (16-11, 8-6) as it tries to bolster its NCAA tournament résumé. The Spartans probably need at least two victories in their final four games to feel good about their chances of landing a bid entering the Big Ten tournament.