Gary Harris and Travis Trice Return in Michigan State Spartans' Loss

By Chris Katje

The Michigan State Spartans lost 59-67 to the Miami Hurricanes as part of the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Spartans, who were ranked 13th in the latest AP Poll, now fall to a 5-2 record. Although the loss is a setback on a disappointing season so far, Spartans fans have good news going forward.

Wednesday’s loss marked the return of two Spartan players in Gary Harris and Travis Trice. Harris had missed time since the team’s win against Boise State. Trice had not played since the team’s opening loss to Connecticut in Germany.

Harris returned a lot earlier than expected. Thirty seconds into the game against Boise State, Harris exited with an apparent shoulder injury. Harris was hurt on a moving screen that was not called for a foul on the play. Head coach Tom Izzo said after the game, “Harris is not good, don’t know what it is yet.” At the time Izzo listed the best case scenario as Harris missing two weeks and provided the worst case scenario as “a lot longer”.

Harris was a McDonald’s All American and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Indiana. In his senior season at Hamilton Southeastern High, he average 25.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 4.0 steals. Harris broke his high school’s record with 1540 points scored.

The Spartans were able to land Harris as a huge recruit last year. Harris was recruited by Purdue and Indiana as well. His parents both attended Purdue, including his mother who ranks seventh all time in scoring at the university with 1747 points.

Harris’s return for the Spartans is a great start. The freshman guard was averaging 16 points per game before his injury against the Broncos. Key contributions of 18 points against Kansas and 19 points against Texas Southern helped Harris earn Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. The guard was also leading the Spartans in scoring average.

Travis Trice returned after suffering a concussion against Connecticut. The injury happened on a head butt by Huskies player Shabazz Napier. Trice wore a protective mask to conceal his nose, which took the impact of the head butt, during Wednesday’s return.

The Spartan sophomore guard scored three points in 18 minutes before the injury happened. In the 2011-2012 season, Trice averaged 17.2 minutes scoring 4.2 points per game. Trice’s long distance range was helpful for the Spartans last season. He finished fourth on the team in three point shots made. His accuracy of 40% ranked first among last year’s freshman class in the Big Ten Conference.

Trice was the 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio and also a McDonald’s All American. The Spartan sophomore attended Wayne High School, where he played for his father, the head coach. The younger Trice broke the school’s career points record with 1555. During his senior season, Trice averaged 23.5 points, 6.5 assists, 4.3 steals and 3.3 rebounds.

Izzo called the game a hard one to manage. He rotated players frequently and tried to get a rhythm going, while also making sure both returning players were not overworked. Now that Izzo knows both players are good to go, he can get back to his true starters.

In Wednesday’s loss, the Spartans scored a season low 59 points. Harris provided 12 points in 25 minutes of play, while also contributing eight rebounds and a block. Harris went 5-11 in field goals and hit two of five three point attempts. Trice played only 12 minutes, but managed to score nine points, shooting 3-3 on three point field goals.

The Spartans now face five small opponents that should make their record 10-2 going into a home game against the University of Texas. Michigan State follows that matchup with a grueling Big Ten Conference schedule that includes two matches against #1 Indiana, two matches against #3 Michigan and two matches against #4 Ohio State.

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