Michigan State reserve guard Kyle Ahrens was placed on a stretcher by paramedics and transported off the court after suffering a left ankle injury in the first half of the Spartans' 65-60 win over Michigan (28-6, 17-6) in the Big Ten tournament title game at Chicago's United Center on Sunday.
Spartans coach Tom Izzo said after the game that Ahrens is done for the season.
Ahrens said he was relieved X-rays showed the ankle was not broken, but the extent of the injury was not clear. He will have an MRI once the softball-sized swelling goes down.
"I'm just happy it's not [broken]," Ahrens said. "I'll just take it day by day."
Ahrens landed awkwardly on a play and collapsed to the floor, screaming in pain. Paramedics put an air cast on his left leg.
His teammates had an emotional reaction to the sight of Ahrens, who has battled a back injury throughout the season, writhing in pain as paramedics treated him. Michigan State forward Nick Ward openly wept as he stood near his teammate. Izzo bent down and held Ahrens' hand. When he got up, he wiped tears from his eyes.
"He thought it was broke,'' Izzo said. "He thought his career was over. He was thanking everybody. It was one of those times that you don't forget in your coaching career.''
Ahrens' younger brother, Justin, who plays for Ohio State, was quick to tweet support to Ahrens:
yall cant even put into imagination what he been through the past 6 years. true definition of a WARRIOR💯 nothin but love and respect brotha https://t.co/axGXpN7db2— Justin Ahrens (@ahrensjustin12) March 17, 2019
The Spartans junior was able to return to the bench during the second half sporting a walking boot and using crutches. The crowd greeted him with loud cheers.
Ahrens is averaging 4.8 points per game for Michigan State (28-6, 19-4).
The Spartans start the NCAA tournament on Thursday against the Bradley Braves.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.