KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee guard Kevin Punter Jr. has a stress fracture in his right foot, which likely will force the Volunteers to continue playing without their top scorer.
Volunteers coach Rick Barnes announced the severity of Punter’s injury Monday and described his status as “day to day.” Barnes said he doesn’t expect Punter to play Wednesday at South Carolina (22-5, 9-5 SEC) but added that “I’ve been fooled before.”
“I hurt for him, and we all do because first of all, he’s just a great person,” Barnes said. “He works hard. He’s a great teammate. He’s been a joy to be around. You hope that he’s going to have a way to maybe get back and work through it.
“For him, it’s tough on him because he’s a competitor. He loves the game, and he’s done everything a coaching staff could ask him to do. To see him in this situation this time of year, we all feel for him.”
Punter sat on the bench wearing a walking boot on his right foot throughout Tennessee’s 81-65 victory over LSU on Saturday.
Barnes said Punter was wearing the walking boot in the gym Monday morning and had indicated his foot was feeling a little bit better.
The 6-foot-2 senior averages 22.2 points per game for Tennessee (13-14, 6-8) and ranks 11th among all Division I players in scoring.
Barnes said Punter indicated his foot started hurting intermittently the last couple of weeks and that it felt worse Thursday when Tennessee warmed up before an 80-70 loss at No. 16 Kentucky, which was ranked 14th at the time.
“Looking back, I did not think he’d been himself for the last three or four games,” Barnes said.