Louisville loses point guard Chris Jones for two games with sprained wrist
Louisville point guard Chris Jones could miss the next two games because of a sprained wrist on his shooting hand.
Head coach Rick Pitino said Friday that Jones injured his right wrist about a week ago and hurt it again in practice Thursday. Jones' absence leaves the sixth-ranked Cardinals (8-1) without their second-leading scorer and blossoming floor leader Saturday against Western Kentucky (5-3).
Jones is averaging 14.9 points and 2.6 assists.
''That takes a big chunk out of our offensive arsenal,'' Pitino said. ''We're just happy it's not fractured.''
Freshman Terry Rozier will start beside senior, with Final Four hero coming off the bench. Smith is Louisville's leading scorer (17.6 points) and also has played point guard.
Jones' injury is a blow for a Cardinals team trying to fill voids left by the departures ofand post player Gorgui Dieng from last year's national championship squad. It comes as Jones was settling in as Siva's successor, starting eight of nine games and providing solid ball handling.
The 5-foot-10 Jones has built an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.6-1.6 per game along with bravely driving inside against bigger defenders. Then again, that was to be expected from the quick and muscular Jones, who idolizes former NBA all-star Allen Iverson.
Jones told The Associated Press this week he was feeling better about his defense, as well.
''I have to get better off the ball because I'm great on the ball,'' he said. ''There's a lot of rotation that goes on with defense, but I'm getting it and hope to learn it like the back of my hand to make my coach happy.''
Last year's junior college Division I Player of the Year, Jones had been mostly delighting Pitino with his scoring. Jones had 19 points against Louisiana-Lafayette, and had hit 15 of 36 (42 percent) from long range.
''We lose a lot offensively with Chris out,'' Pitino said. ''Chris is somebody who gets in the lane. He's a blow-by guy. Obviously with Tim Henderson, he's more of a spot-up guy, not a blow-by guy, so you lose an awful lot, especially if Russ or Terry get in foul trouble.''
Rozier has been playing his way into a bigger role in the backcourt. He came off the bench to score a career-best 11 points against ULL after starting Louisville's previous two games, opening both contests with 3-point baskets. He's averaging 5.1 points and 2.1 assists with just two turnovers.
Henderson, meanwhile, provides another perimeter threat despite limited minutes this season. He earned a special place among Cardinals fans last spring for his back-to-back 3-pointers within 42 seconds against Wichita State to help rally Louisville from a 12-point second-half deficit and win the national semifinal en route to its third NCAA championship.
AP freelance writer J.J. Hysell in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this report.