In the first half of No. 1 Arizona’s 60-58 loss at Cal late Saturday night, sophomore forward Brandon Ashley went down with a right foot injury. Given how well the San Francisco native has played for the Wildcats this season, to lose Ashley for an extender period of time would be a major blow for the team to absorb.
Sunday evening Arizona announced via statement that Ashley will miss the remainder of the season as a result of the injury, a broken right foot.
“Last night, early in our Cal game, Brandon Ashley suffered a foot injury that will end his season,” head coach Sean Miller said in the statement. “While we’re all disappointed, we are also aware that Brandon needs our support and positive energy surrounding him. Someone once told me, the hottest heat forges the strongest steel. This adversity will ultimately make Brandon and our team stronger moving forward.”
From last night: Why losing Brandon Ashley would be a massive blow to Arizona’s title chances
After averaging 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a freshman Ashley was a much-improved player for the Wildcats in 2013-14. In 22 games Ashley was averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, shooting 52.7% from the field. With his ability to score both inside and out, Ashley was a key figure in one of the country’s best front court rotations.
Now that Ashley’s sidelined for the remainder of the season even more will be asked of starters Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski. And it’s likely that freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will move into the starting lineup, with Gordon playing the majority of his minutes at the four.
When Tarczewski missed time due to a sprained ankle, it was Hollis-Jefferson moving into the starting lineup so he does have experience in that role. Arizona still has plenty of talent, but to lose a starter of Ashley’s caliber is a significant loss for the Wildcats to absorb.
Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.
“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”
McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.
“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.
Like the Coaches Poll, Villanova found themselves No. 1 in the AP Poll during the regular season for the first time in the history of the program.
And like the Coaches Poll, there isn’t much in the way of a consensus when it comes to who is the No. 1 team, as there are six teams that received No. 1 votes in the poll this week.
The biggest shock to me?
The No. 1 team in the NBC Sports Top 25, Iowa, received just 11 first place votes and is ranked fourth in the AP Poll.
They were ranked fifth in the Coaches Poll.
Can we get Fran McCaffery the love they deserve?
Here is the rest of the AP Poll:
1. Villanova (20-3, 32 first-place votes)
2. Maryland (21-3, 13)
3. Oklahoma (19-3, 7)
4. Iowa (19-4, 11)
5. Xavier (21-2)
6. Kansas (19-4, 1)
7. Virginia (19-4, 1)
8. Michigan State (20-4)
9. North Carolina (19-4)
10. West Virginia (19-4)
11. Oregon (18-4)
12. Miami (FL) (18-4)
13. Louisville (19-4)
14. Iowa State (17-6)
15. Texas A&M (18-5)
16. SMU (20-2)
17. Arizona (19-5)
18. Purdue (19-5)
19. Dayton (19-3)
20. Providence (18-6)
21. Baylor (17-6)
22. Kentucky (17-6)
23. USC (18-5)
24. Texas (16-7)
25. Wichita State (17-6)
DROPPED OUT: No. 22 Indiana, No. 25 South Carolina
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 23 USC, No. 24 Texas