March 22 (UPI) — Kentucky is expected to take the floor without star P.J. Washington for the second consecutive NCAA tournament game Saturday in Jacksonville.
The No. 2 Wildcats tip off against the No. 7 Wofford Terriers at 2:40 p.m. at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena for a chance to go to the Sweet 16. The second-round clash airs on CBS.
Washington, 20, is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The sophomore forward sustained a sprained foot during the Wildcats’ loss to Tennessee in the SEC tournament Saturday in Nashville.
The 6-foot-8, 228-pound forward averaged a team-high 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season. Washington attended Kentucky’s 79-44 win against Abilene Christian while sporting a hard cast on his left leg in Thursday’s first round in Jacksonville.
“There was a choice between a boot and a cast,” Calipari told ESPN. “They said the cast would be better to help him and they can take it off whenever; they can take it off tomorrow and see how he’s feeling. But my guess is he won’t play this weekend.”
Calipari also said it will be hard for Kentucky to win without Washington. The Kentucky star does not have a fracture, but is in pain.
Washington told CBS his pain level is a 10 out of 10.
“Whether they’ll take it [cast] off tomorrow to check it, I don’t know. If they don’t, he won’t play Saturday,” Calipari told reporters. “And then they’ll probably try to take it off Tuesday or Wednesday of next week to see how his foot feels. Everything was negative as far as the X-rays, but they just want — it was a sprained foot, so they just want to keep it calm, so that’s what it is.”
Kentucky freshman guard Keldon Johnson scored a game-high 25 points in Thursday’s win. Reid Travis added 18 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats.
“Obviously it’s tough not having P.J. with us,” Travis said. “He makes our team better all season. I feel like we play off each other really well. Like with my injury a couple weeks back, guys have to step up and fit in to different roles and really build there confidence.”
Wofford beat Seton Hall 84-68 in the first round to set up the matchup with Kentucky in the second round.