In­jury ques­tions linger for Elite Eight squads

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports -

Ken­tucky got PJ Wash­ing­ton back just in time, Duke hung on with­out Cam Red­dish, and Auburn’s thrill from a huge win was tem­pered by a Chuma Okeke’s torn ACL.

The in­jury ques­tions piled up in NCAA Sweet 16 games in the East and Mid­west re­gions, all with the po­ten­tial to af­fect who earns the fi­nal two spots in the Fi­nal Four on Sun­day.

Wash­ing­ton’s sta­tus as the Wild­cats’ top scorer and re­bounder was one of the most dis­cussed top­ics of the tour­na­ment’s open­ing week­end. The 6-foot-8 sopho­more didn’t play in the first two games due to an in­jury to his left foot that re­quired a hard cast.

Wash­ing­ton turned in a big per­for­mance (16 points on 6-for-8 shoot­ing), but made his big­gest play with a crit­i­cal block at the rim on Corey Davis Jr. to set up Tyler Herro’s go-ahead 3-pointer in the fi­nal sec­onds.

Ken­tucky will face Auburn in an all-SEC re­gional fi­nal af­ter the fifth­seeded Tigers beat Mid­west Re­gion top seed North Carolina. But amid the Tigers’ 3-point bar­rage and free­wheel­ing flow was the con­cern over Okeke, who had 20 points and 11 re­bounds be­fore crash­ing to the floor when his left knee buck­led on a drive with about 8 min­utes left. The 6-foot-8 sopho­more’s sea­son is over right be­fore Auburn plays in its first re­gional fi­nal since 1986.

For Duke, coach Mike Krzyzewski said the Blue Devils found out right be­fore the nar­row win against Vir­ginia Tech that Red­dish was deal­ing with a knee prob­lem. He said he didn’t know whether Red­dish would be ready Sun­day against Michi­gan State, which had its own scare when Nick Ward ap­peared to rein­jure his pre­vi­ously frac­tured left hand. Coach Tom Izzo de­scribed it as a bone bruise, and Ward said he’ll be ready to go.

No­table

Ne­braska: Fred Hoiberg, the for­mer NBA player who coached Iowa State and the Chicago Bulls, was hired Satur­day to coach a Corn­huskers team that had big hopes this sea­son but fin­ished with a 19-17 record and out of the NCAA Tour­na­ment yet again. He agreed to a seven-year, $25 mil­lion con­tract.

Hoiberg, 46, was born in Lincoln, and ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther Jerry Bush was Ne­braska’s head coach from 1954-63. His pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther was a pro­fes­sor at the school, and his par­ents are grad­u­ates. Kansas: Char­lie Moore has de­cided to trans­fer for the sec­ond time af­ter an un­event­ful sea­son with the Jay­hawks. Moore be­gan his ca­reer at Cal­i­for­nia, sat out last sea­son af­ter mov­ing to KU and came off the bench in 34 of his 35 ap­pear­ances this sea­son. He av­er­aged 2.9 points and 1.3 as­sists.

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