Michigan State basketball: Jaden Akins leaves Villanova win with apparent injury

EAST LANSING - Jaden Akins backpedaled on defense, landed awkwardly and came up limping.

The sophomore guard left No. 25 Michigan State basketball's 73-71 victory over Villanova on Friday night with an apparent injury to his surgically repaired left foot.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound combo guard underwent surgery Sept. 10 for a stress reaction in his left foot, but he rehabbed and returned in time for the Spartans' season opener on Nov. 7.

Michigan State
Michigan State's head coach Tom Izzo, right, talks with Jaden Akins during the second half in the game against Villanova on Friday, Nov.  

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MSU coach Tom Izzo said he did not know what the injury was, but he added he did not believe it was serious.

"Jaden got going, and then he got hurt a little bit," Izzo said. "I don't know if it was a knee or an ankle."

MSU (3-1) is off until Thursday, when it faces No. 16 Alabama in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Oregon. Tipoff is 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN).

Akins played 21 minutes Friday and had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting - including a highlight reel dunk off a steal. He added five rebounds and two assists but picked up three second-half fouls, the final a charging call which came with 6:01 to play.

The injury happened 10 seconds later as Akins was on defense; he slid laterally down the left side of the lane guarding a drive by Villanova's Caleb Daniels. Akins elevated with Daniels and landed first on his right foot, then started hopping after his left foot planted on the baseline.

Akins did not want to leave the game with the Spartans ahead by 11 points, but he ran to the sideline with a noticeable limp and grimacing in some pain with 5:51 to play. Izzo and trainer Nick Richey greeted him on the sideline, and Akins did not return after Richey examined him on the bench.

Akins appeared to be moving fine in the MSU locker room after the game but was not available for interviews. He entered Friday averaging six points and 3.3 rebounds in 20 minutes a game.

"You can see him getting back to himself slowly but surely," point guard A.J. Hoggard said of Akins. "It's coming and it takes time, especially with an injury like (the stress reaction). But definitely, he's just being more consistent. And just seeing him continue to go out there and just trust his work and not think about it, not really let the injury hold him back, you're seeing him playing aggressive. And that's what I want to see from him, that's what I like to see from him. It speaks volumes about the guy he is."

The Spartans built a 16-point second-half lead, and it almost all evaporated down the stretch with Akins aching on the bench. Senior forward Malik Hall also sat for nearly 9½ minutes with three fouls, which Izzo said he felt played a factor.

"Our defense was still what won us the game, and that was the only other issue in the second half. I thought they drove us," Izzo said. "I think we got a little tired when Jaden was out and Malik was out. We just didn't have the defenders out there."

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State basketball: Jaden Akins leaves with apparent injury


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