Injury questions linger for Elite Eight squads
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.
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.