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December 14, 2013

Injury forces shakeup in the backcourt

Starting junior point guard Chris Jones' wrist injury will mean another starting assignment for freshman Terry Rozier, more time off the bench by Tim Henderson and possibly an even bigger scoring load for Russ Smith in No. 6 Louisville's next two games.

During his Friday afternoon press conference, UofL coach Rick Pitino said he expects Jones to miss Saturday's noon game against Western Kentucky (5-3) and Tuesday night's contest vs. Missouri State (7-1) with a sprained right (shooting) wrist suffered during practice Thursday.

"It's his shooting hand, so we're just happy it's not fractured or broken," Pitino said. "Just part of practice. It's like an ankle sprain. he injured it in practice about a week ago and then bent it back a second time."

Pitino said Rozier will draw his third start of the season in replacing Jones and that Henderson, a senior reserve, will play more minutes than usual and will have to perform well.

"It's just a matter of we lose a lot offensively with Chris out," Pitino said. "Chris is somebody who gets in the lane, he's a blow-by game. Obviously, Tim Henderson is more of a spot-up guy; he's not a blow-by guy. So you lose an awful lot, especially if Russ or Terry get in foul trouble. Then you've got some serious problems, and they (WKU) have a very good backcourt. So we're quite concerned.

"But Rozier is a terrific player. It's not Russ and Terry, it's who comes in. Tim's got to step up and have a great game, and he's capable of doing that."

Anton Gill and Kevin Ware are also available if needed.

Jones is averaging 25.8 minutes per game -- tops on the team -- and has started eight of nine games. He is averaging 14.9 points and 2.56 assists per game while shooting 48 percent from the field, including 41.7 from 3-point range (15-36).

Rozier is coming off his best performance of the season, having gotten 11 points and six assists in the 113-74 rout of Louisiana Lafayette. He hit 5-of-6 shots while playing a season-high 23 minutes.

Smith leads UofL in scoring at 17.6 ppg and in assists with 4.3 per game. Henderson has played a total of just 33 minutes in the Cardinals' nine games, with six points and five assists.

Against WKU, the Cards (8-1) will be seeking their fourth straight win since a 93-84 loss to North Carolina. The 9 o'clock game against Missouri State will be their final appearance in the KFC Yum! Center until 2014.

After playing at FIU, Kentucky and opening the American Athletic Conference season at Central Florida, they will return to the Yum! for the first time in over three weeks to face Memphis on Jan. 9 to start a three-game homestand.

Louisville NEWS


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