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Tom Izzo uncertain as to when Keith Appling will return to lineup

Feb 7, 2014, 10:15 AM EST

Keith Appling Getty Images

No. 9 Michigan State was forced to play without starting point guard Keith Appling on Thursday night, with Appling being forced to miss the game due to a right wrist injury he’s been dealing with for quite some time. The Spartans took care of Penn State without Appling, with Kenny Kaminski scoring 19 points, Denzel Valentine adding a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds and six assists) and Adreian Payne scoring 12 points in his first game in nearly a month.

But Michigan State’s trip to Wisconsin for a game with the reeling Badgers Sunday afternoon is a different matter, with the Badgers looking to get back to being an incredibly difficult team to beat at the Kohl Center. Bo Ryan’s Badgers have lost their last three games at home, with that being the first such streak during Ryan’s tenure.

Given the Badgers’ talent (and need for a win) the fact that, according to MLive.com, he’s unsure of when Appling will be able to return doesn’t help Izzo as he prepares his team for this difficult test.

“I have no idea,” Izzo said. “This has been the most frustrating. It’s beyond disgusting. I have no timeframe. I know he won’t practice tomorrow. Whether he does on Saturday or plays Sunday or whether we’re going (to Wisconsin) without him. I wish I could tell you. If I knew, I’d tell you.”

Appling, currently averaging 15.0 points and 4.9 assists per game, is a player the Spartans need to have on the floor for the stretch run if they’re to contend for a national title. And as we’ve seen with the way in which Izzo handled Payne’s (foot injury) status, it’s unlikely that the point guard returns to the court before he gets back to full strength.

Sunday’s game is an important one, as Michigan State’s tied for first place in the Big Ten with Michigan, so it would be good to have Appling available. But that will only happen if he’s healthy enough to contribute without risking further injury.