North Carolina shooting guard Marcus Ginyard, the team's best perimeter defender, third-leading scorer and leader, will miss the ninth-ranked Tar Heels' ACC opener on Sunday against Virginia Tech because of a sprained right ankle.
It's an injury that appears to be contagious at UNC. Starting small forward Will Graves and reserve guard Leslie McDonald are both questionable to play, also because of sprained right ankles.
"If we played today, they would not play," coach Roy Williams said Friday. "If we played tomorrow, they would not play. ... So we'll just have to wait and see."
Sunday will mark the fourth straight game (and fifth overall) missed by Ginyard, who was averaging 11 points, 3.9 rebounds and a team-high 31.6 minutes before he got hurt. Graves (7.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg) has missed one game, and McDonald was hurt during Monday's loss at College of Charleston.
"I was encouraged by Leslie the other night, but I hate it for him that he sprained his ankle during the game. But he toughed it out and played the whole second half, and then it just ballooned up on him when he got back here," Williams said.
He said, however, that if McDonald was healthy, he would start Sunday. Instead, expect freshmen Dexter Strickland and David Wear to open the game in place of Ginyard and Graves, again. Sophomore guard Justin Watts, who also missed a game with a sprained right ankle this month, should also be available to play more minutes.
"[Injuries are] a concern, but if we can get everybody healthy and playing, then the struggles that we've gone through now and the minutes that we've been able to give Dexter and Leslie will help us," Williams said.
Calipari wants consistency: Kentucky coach John Calipari was vaguely talking about areas where the unbeaten Wildcats could improve on Friday when asked if he could be more specific.
"I don't know," Calipari said, playing coy.
After a little more prodding, Calipari looked directly at a television camera and sent a message to Georgia coach Mark Fox. Kentucky hosts the Bulldogs in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams today.
"Mark, let me tell you exactly where we're weak," Calipari deadpanned. "You attack these three areas, you'll beat us."
The quip drew laughter, though Calipari is only too aware how quickly the good times can disappear in the SEC.
Calipari's happy with Kentucky's 15-0 start -- the best in 40 years -- even if the Wildcats are "9-6" according to his standards.
He also knows the giddy highs of the last two months, including wins over North Carolina, Connecticut and Louisville, won't matter over the next two months as Kentucky vies for its 44th SEC title.
"These are the games that are scary because you know they're good enough to beat us," Calipari said. "You hope your team understands that they're good enough to beat us and that we're going to have to play one of our better games to beat them. And if you think you're walking through 'em, you lose."
The Wildcats haven't lost any yet, winning thrillers, blowouts and everything in between.
Rutgers center to transfer: Rutgers center Greg Echenique is transferring.
The Big East Conference school announced Friday that the sophomore from Venezuela informed the school of his intent to transfer and that he has been granted a conditional release.
Echenique started seven games before his season ended last month when he had surgery to repair a detached retina. He averaged 12.6 points and 7.7 rebounds, while shooting 61 percent from the field with 16 blocks.
Track and field
Tar Heel Invitational: St. Augustine's Barbara Pierre broke her own personal-best record, which is also a national mark, in the women's 60-meter dash on Friday in Chapel Hill.
Pierre outraced her competitors in a time of 7.25 seconds, bettering her Division II national record of 7.27 seconds which Pierre set March 2009 at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships.
The UNC women's team finished first, led by hurdler Vanneisha Ivy's NCAA provisional mark of 8.34 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles.
UNC's men's team finished second behind Western Carolina.