Mississippi State basketball forward Tolu Smith out several weeks with fractured pinky toe
Mississippi State men's basketball forward Tolu Smith will miss several weeks with a fractured pinky toe on his right foot, coach Ben Howland said after the Bulldogs' 66-63 loss to Colorado State on Saturday.
Smith didn't play in the contest, and he's been dealing with the injury for some time. Howland said Smith suffered the toe fracture against Richmond on Nov. 27 but has attempted to play through the pain.
In Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday for the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, Smith was dressed in street clothes and wore a boot on his right foot. Smith underwent surgery in September to repair a stress fracture in his left foot, but this injury is different from that one.
"Obviously, Tolu is one of our best players, and it's been really disappointing for him and our team, everything he's had to contend with with these different injuries," Howland said. "... Basically he has a fracture of his pinky toe on his right foot, right as it inserts to the foot. And it's a hard injury, cause it's painful. I think it's kind of what Aaron Rodgers has right now with Green Bay."
Howland said he didn't anticipate Smith playing until after Christmas break, "but I'm guessing."
Smith is a pivotal piece for the Bulldogs. After center Abdul Ado transferred to Cincinnati this offseason, Smith is learning how to play the five after serving as a power forward last year. Smith said the biggest learning curve has come on the defensive end.
But Smith has displayed his offensive prowess in games this year, too. Across four games, he's averaged 13.3 points with 8.3 rebounds. His 22 points and 11 rebounds led Mississippi State to an overtime victory against Richmond. Smith's presence was more muted against Minnesota, finishing 3-for-9 from the field.
"He's not going to hurt it worse playing on it, so there's no concern that it's going to slow down the healing," Howland said. "But when he's trying to do it, he just can't move it. He was struggling at the end of the Minnesota game. He's like, 'I want to fight through this.' But it was really bothering him then, the last seven minutes of that game."
Without Smith, Mississippi State will lean on forward Javian Davis for more minutes, and Garrison Brooks will feature more as a center. Davis finished with 13 points and Brooks had 15 against Colorado State.
"He's obviously somebody that we need, because he's one of our best players," Davis said. "But at the end of the day, next man up."