BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — nFirst the Indiana Hoosiers found out sophomore forward OG Anunoby would miss the rest of the season with an injured right knee.
Then coach Tom Crean was told starting forward Juwan Morgan may miss Saturday’s game against Michigan State, too.
Now the defending Big Ten champions have no choice — they’re going to have dig in and dig down to fight through another spate of injuries.
“We’ve been in these situations before but it’s uncharted for this team,” Crean said on a warm, dreary afternoon in Bloomington. “Certainly the Collin Hartman injury was hard, but it was in the preseason and they didn’t get to see what Collin brought to this team. But they did get to see what OG brought to this team.”
Anunoby has been a bundle of energy since arriving at Indiana last season and quickly emerged as the heart and soul of Indiana’s defense.
He’s retained those titles this season by consistently causing havoc in the passing lanes and taking advantage of opening for highlight reel dunks.
Anunoby made such a strong first impression last season that some thought the St. Louis native should declare for the NBA draft.
Instead, he returned to Indiana (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten) where he became a favorite of fans and teammates and appeared headed toward another good season.
But everything changed on the final play of the first half Wednesday at Penn State.
While battling for an offensive rebound, Anunoby’s right knee appeared to buckle. After crumpling to the floor, he needed help to get to the locker room and the fears that caused tears to be shed in the postgame locker room were confirmed Friday.
“It’s been a long couple of days for everybody, hard for him, hard for all of us,” Crean said. “If everything goes as expected, he’ll have a 100 percent recovery.”
The 6-foot-8, 235-pound sophomore was averaging 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals, tied for 10th in the Big Ten.
He’s the third Indiana player to deal with a serious knee injury in 13 months.
Guard James Blackmon Jr. had knee surgery last January and missed the entire conference season.
Hartman, a 6-7 forward and the only senior on this year’s team, had surgery on his injured left knee Sept. 28 and has not played yet this season.
And now the Hoosiers could be down another body against the Spartans (12-7, 4-2 ), a perennial conference contender.
The 6-8, 230-pound Morgan injured his left foot during Sunday’s victory over Rutgers and missed the Penn State game. Crean listed Morgan as doubtful.
Morgan had started nine of the previous 13 games and was averaging 7.3 points and 5.4 rebounds and without Anunoby or Morgan, players like Zach McRoberts and De’Ron Davis may be asked to play more minutes.
Davis left briefly with an ankle injury Wednesday but returned to the game and said Friday he felt OK.
“I don’t think any roles are going to change. I just think guys are just going to come together,” McRoberts said. “I don’t think it’s going to be anything individually, I think it’s all about coming together.”