TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona coach Sean Miller said on Monday afternoon he’s not sure if 7-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski will be available to play when the top-ranked Wildcats return to the court on Thursday against Southern University.
Miller described the injury, suffered when Tarczewski landed awkwardly after taking a shot in the second half of Saturday’s victory at Michigan, as a “legitimately sprained ankle,” making him questionable for the 11-0 Wildcats.
“We’re lucky in that his final exams are (mostly) behind him so he’s pretty much around the clock working to get better,” Miller said.
Tarczewski’s injury brings into question Arizona’s overall depth. While freshman forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will likely move into a starting role, the Wildcats will have to look farther down their bench to an untested big man to help carry the load. Tarczewski is averaging 10.1 points and 6.7 rebounds a game and is coming off of two of his better games — 14 points in each, plus a combined 14 rebounds.
Miller said junior college transfer Matt Korchek will be the next guy in line. He’s played in five games and has averaged 4.4 minutes per game.
“He may not have been part of our rotation, but he’s with us every day and is working hard,” Miller said. “I think he’s ready. There is a difference of playing in the first half and at the end of the game.”
Miller said the 6-foot-10 Korcheck, who played at Sabino High and then went to Cochise Junior College, is one of the team’s hardest workers.
“He knows what to do and the role that he has,” Miller said. “He’s big and he’s strong. He’ll do a good job for us.”
Kansas transfer Zach Peters is behind Korchek. He’s been slowed by illness while working his way back from a missed season due to concussions.
The Wildcats remain an overwhelming choice in this week’s Associated Press poll after their 72-70 win at Michigan. They received all but two of the first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel Monday.
Syracuse (10-0) got the other two No. 1 votes and remains second in a poll, with the top eight teams holding the same spot from last week.
Ohio State is third followed by Wisconsin, Michigan State, Louisville and Oklahoma State.
Duke and Villanova, which moved up two spots, were tied for eighth, while Connecticut dropped one spot to round out the top 10.
North Carolina, which beat Kentucky 82-77 on Saturday, moved from 18th to No. 14. The loss dropped the Wildcats, the preseason No. 1, from 11th to No. 19.
We’re lucky in that his final exams are (mostly) behind him so he’s pretty much around the clock working to get better.