In the midst of No. 1 Kentucky’s comfortable win over USF on Friday, sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis went down with a hyperextended right elbow. Kentucky does have two other players capable of running the point in freshmen Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe, but there’s no denying the importance of Ulis to this team.
The question now is whether or not Ulis will be available when the Wildcats host Illinois State Monday night, and there has yet to be a definitive answer. Ulis didn’t practice Sunday, and should he miss Monday’s game Kentucky loses a player who has provided (among many things) consistency at the point.
“And without Tyler now, you have to understand the last six minutes of that half and what we did the first five or six minutes of that second half, that was without Tyler. We were really good,” Calipari said Sunday. “It’s just they couldn’t sustain it. That’s what Tyler does. Tyler just keeps coming and he does not stop and he’s not going to make mistakes to let another team get back in the game. That’s the difference. That’s the experience.”
The absence of Ulis would give Murray and Briscoe more time with the ball in their hands running the point, and they’d have to do so against an Illinois State team that gave No. 2 Maryland all it wanted in Cancun earlier this week.
While Friday’s game was well in hand when Ulis was injured, the Wildcats and Bulls played to a stalemate in the final 20 minutes. Doing so against an Illinois State team expected to be a factor in the Missouri Valley Conference would be dangerous.
Following Monday’s game, Kentucky makes the trip out west to take on UCLA Thursday night.
Kentucky lost Devin Booker and the Harrison twins to the NBA Draft, but has once again reloaded on the perimeter with Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe joining sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis.
Briscoe, rated No. 10 overall in the Class of 2015 by Rivals, took to Twitter on Friday night to show off the transformation to his body since arriving in Lexington. The Kentucky freshman guard included shoutout to strength coach, Rob Harris, in his tweet.
Briscoe didn’t list his current weight, but a tweet posted on Aug. 4 stated he was 205 pounds. The 6-foot-3 committed to Kentucky as one of the best playmakers in in the Class of 2015.
This is another promising sign for a Kentucky that has to replace the production of seven players who bolted for the NBA. Murray, a late addition to the class, shined in July during the Pan-Am Games, including a 22-point and six-assist performance against the United States in the semifinals.
The Wildcats begin the 2015-16 season on Nov. 13 against Albany.
Thursday night it was reported that Kentucky signee Isaiah Briscoe suffered a head injury, thus putting his status for the United States U19 team’s trip to Crete for the FIBA U19 World Championships into doubt. Friday morning USA Basketball announced that Briscoe will not be making the trip as a result of that injury.
Briscoe will be replaced on the roster by Virginia Tech rising sophomore guard Justin Bibbs, who was one of the final four players cut from the squad Monday evening.
“I feel very bad for Isaiah. He had a tremendous attitude and was one of our overall best players and one of our leaders of the team,” U19 and Arizona head coach Sean Miller said in the release. “It is very, very unfortunate to see him get injured in what was really a two-on-two drill. But the good news is I know he’ll recover and be fine; the bad news is he won’t be able to play on our team.”
The 6-foot-5 Bibbs averaged 11.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in his debut season at Virginia Tech, ranking second on the team in scoring. With Briscoe out of the rotation, the United States can call upon Villanova signee Jalen Brunson and Oklahoma State signee Jawun Evans at the point.