Wednesday’s game against No. 9 Utah didn’t come at the best of times for the Colorado Buffaloes, who were looking to move to 3-0 in conference play after taking care of UCLA and USC last weekend. With junior forward Josh Scott missing those two games with back spasms and still at less than full strength, the Buffaloes arrived in Salt Lake City with one important health issue to address.
And early in their 74-49 loss to the Utes, Tad Boyle’s team lost a key piece as junior forward Xavier Johnson suffered a high ankle sprain. Johnson was attempting a layup, and the awkward plant resulted in the Mater Dei HS product injuring his right ankle. Johnson, who’s averaging 12.8 points and 5.4 rebounds on the season, left the game and did not return.
Ice was applied to Johnson’s ankle upon his return to the bench in the first half, and in his postgame comments Boyle noted that high ankle sprains tend to take longer to heal than sprains that occur within the joint itself.
“He twisted his ankle pretty good, and it’s higher, it’s not in the joint it’s higher up,” Boyle said after the game. “High ankle sprains are pretty nasty and we’ll get a better feel for that as it progresses. They’re very painful and they take a little longer than just the normal ankle sprain.
“We have enough guys on this team to overcome but we would certainly like to get him back as soon as possible.”
If there’s a positive to be found in this situation it’s the schedule, with the Buffaloes not having another game until they visit No. 8 Arizona January 15. Will that be enough time for Johnson to heal and remain in the starting lineup? That remains to be seen, and after being outclassed by the Utes next Thursday’s game represents an important opportunity for a team that can use a quality win on its resume.
Prior to the start of conference play Colorado went through a stretch in which they lost four of six games, with the two wins coming at the expense of Northern Colorado and DePaul (which currently sits atop the Big East standings).