College Basketball

NC State guard Barber cleared to return

N.C. State guard Cat Barber got knocked out of the Wolfpack’s ACC tournament loss Thursday with a minor neck injury but will be ready for the NCAA tournament.

After a series of tests Friday, Barber was cleared to return for the Wolfpack’s next game, according to a statement by the school.

Barber, a sophomore point guard who averages 12.1 points and 3.8 assists, has been instrumental in N.C. State’s recent flourish but didn’t score against Duke and was 0-for-7 from the floor in 25 minutes.

Barber collided with Duke forward Amile Jefferson at the 13-minute, 26-second mark of the second half of N.C. State’s 77-53 loss.

Barber suffered a spasm in his neck muscles, according to the school.

With the game out of hand – N.C. State trailed 60-34 at the time – the Wolfpack didn’t bring Barber back in.

Barber was defending Duke guard Tyus Jones when he ran into a screen by Jefferson at the 3-point line near N.C. State’s basket.

“He just didn’t see it,” Jefferson said. “I knew it was going to be a tough hit for him. That’s why after that timeout, I went to check on him, make sure he was all right.”

Barber’s jaw bore the brunt of the contact. He remained on the floor for an extended period before coach Mark Gottfried and N.C. State’s training staff helped him off the floor.

He briefly sat on the Wolfpack bench before going back to the locker room for the rest of the game.

Barber had a CAT scan of his head and neck Friday and the tests came back normal.

Barber had a career-high 34 points in N.C. State’s second-round win against Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He has helped the Wolfpack (20-13) win six of its past eight games to solidify the team’s NCAA tournament resume.

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