The MRI results are in, and what we all suspected is now official: Nerlens Noel has torn the ACL in his left knee and will be out for the rest of the season.
Surgery is expected to be in the next two-to-three weeks, as they wait for the swelling in the knee to subside. The recovery time for a torn ACL is in the neighborhood of six-to-eight months.
It’s a tough pill to swallow. Noel was one of the most entertaining players in the country to watch, a shot-blocking pogo stick that was the one player on the Kentucky roster that could be relied on to play well and play hard on a nightly basis. By all accounts, he’s just a great kid off the court, too.
And it’s fitting, really: if last night ends up being the last time that Noel dons a Kentucky jersey, his final play as a Wildcat will be tracking down a player on a breakaway and blocking a layup attempt. It would be poetic if it wasn’t so depressing.
That said, torn ACLs are not career-ending injuries. He’ll be able to come back from this. Here’s to hoping for a speedy recovery.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)