Noel injured in Kentucky loss
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel rushed back on defense, blocked Mike Rosario’s layup from behind and then awkwardly landed on his left leg.
He crashed into the basket support, dropped to the ground and started screaming as he clutched his left knee.
It may have been his final play of the season.
Noel, the nation’s top shot-blocker, injured his knee with about 8 minutes to play in the 25th-ranked Wildcats’ 69-52 loss to No. 7 Florida on Tuesday night.
“I’m physically sick right now for him,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “What I’m hoping is it’s not the extreme. I’m hoping it’s some sort of twist, but we don’t know.”
Trainers rushed to Noel’s side. A few minutes later, teammates carried him to the locker room as the home crowd cheered in support.
“We’re all brothers, win, lose or draw,” senior guard Julius Mays said. “We’ve always got each other’s backs.”
Noel was pushed through the hallways of the O’Connell Center in a wheelchair, with his left leg extended and in a brace. He was transported to Shands Hospital on Florida’s campus for tests, but was expected to return with the team to Lexington, Ky.
Noel had eight points, six rebounds and three blocks before getting hurt.
The freshman entered the game averaging 10.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.5 blocks.
Losing him for any period of time, let alone the rest of the season, would be a huge blow for a young team that had started to gel in recent weeks. The Wildcats (17-7, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) had won five straight and seven of eight.
“He’s a vital part of our team so we hope for the best,” Kentucky forward Kyle Wiltjer said.
Florida (20-3, 10-1) held a comfortable lead before the injury.