With Peyton Siva having graduated Louisville needed another guard to step up in a group led by senior Russ Smith, and given his production at Northwest Florida State junior college transfer Chris Jones was expected to be an impact addition. Through nine games Jones is averaging 14.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest for the sixth-ranked Cardinals, who host Western Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.
According to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, a sprained wrist could potentially sideline Jones for that meeting. But while Jones said at a charity event on Thursday that he could miss game action as a result, that isn’t the same message coming from the team.
Chris Jones sprained a wrist and wore a brace during a team charity event Thursday night. He told The Courier-Journal he could miss three games, though U of L spokesman Kenny Klein said the team considers Jones “day-to-day” and would have more information on his injury today.
If Jones is limited or can’t go due to the injury that would simply mean more work for Smith in running the team, and through nine games the man known for his sometimes reckless forays to the basketball has been a more efficient basketball player. Smith’s averaging team highs in both points (17.6 ppg) and assists (4.3 apg) while shooting 46.7% from the floor. According to kenpom.com Smith’s offensive rating of 121.6 is nearly 13 points higher than his mark of a season ago (118.9), and his assist percentage (33.3) had increased by more than 12 percentage points (21.1).
Among the other options at Rick Pitino’s disposal on the perimeter are junior Wayne Blackshear, senior Luke Hancock and freshman Terry Rozier, with Hancock having experience running the show from his time at George Mason. After this current three-game stretch (WKU, Missouri State and FIU) the Cardinals visit bitter rival Kentucky, and they’ll definitely need a healthy Jones for that showdown in Lexington.