Sidelines with John Clay

One of Michigan State’s top basketball players to miss game against Kentucky

One of No. 1-ranked Michigan State’s top players will miss next month’s showdown with No. 2 Kentucky in the Champions Classic.

Spartans guard Joshua Langford had a stress reaction in his return from a foot injury, Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said Tuesday. He is out until January, when his injury will be re-assessed.

The foot injury limited Langford to just 13 games last season. He averaged 15 points per game during his time on the floor. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Huntsville, Ala., is to be a senior this season. He averaged 11.7 points per game as a sophomore in 2017-18 and 6.9 points as a freshman in 2016-17.

“It’s one of those weird things that breaks my heart,” said Izzo, according to the AP. ‘I love Josh Langford. He’s one of those guys that has given me everything on the court, off the court, in the classroom, like almost nobody I’ve had. He’s handled everything a lot better than I would have handled it.”

Writes Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press: “It’s certainly possible that Langford will return sometime during the Big Ten season. If he does, Izzo gets to coach the roster so many believe is the best in college basketball.

“And if he doesn’t?

“Izzo gets to coach a roster that still should be good enough to compete for a national title, as long as a couple of young players step up.”

Kentucky plays its first exhibition game Sunday at 5 p.m. against Georgetown College in Rupp Arena. The Cats play their second exhibition game Nov. 1 against Kentucky State. They open the season Nov. 5 against Michigan State in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

No. 3 Duke plays No. 4 Kansas in the first game at 7 p.m. UK and Michigan State follow at 9:30.

In other college basketball news:

Former Kansas guard Quentin Grimes has been granted a waiver by the NCAA for immediate eligibility at Houston. A 6-5 guard from The Woodlands, Texas, Grimes averaged 8.4 points per game last season as a freshman for the Jayhawks. Kentucky defeated Houston in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 last season.

Michigan forward Franz Wagner is out 5-6 weeks with a fractured right wrist. The 6-8 freshman is the younger brother of former Michigan star Moe Wagner. Under new coach Juwan Howard, Michigan opens its season Nov. 5 against Appalachian State.

If you missed it, here is the AP preseason college basketball poll that was released Monday.

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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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