Injury Thomas Plays Despite Pain

SPOKANE, Wash. — Charles Thomas has tendinitis in his left knee and a severely sprained left ankle to match.

As if he weren't in bad enough shape, Thomas has an injured right shoulder that hasn't fully healed from when he separated it earlier this season.

Despite being a walking injury report, the Arkansas forward kept taking shots, getting to the foul line and doing whatever his body allowed him to do in a 77-60 loss to No. 5-seed Southern California on Friday night.

But Thomas could only do so much while limping around the Spokane Arena with his knee wrapped and his left ankle still giving him problems.

And though he gutted out the pain to score 10 points, the junior's valiant effort wasn't enough to keep the No. 12-seed Razorbacks from enduring their second consecutive first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament.

"(The ankle is) real sore. I mean, it's been sore throughout the whole game," Thomas said. "But I felt my team needed me more out there on the floor than out there on the bench."

Thomas didn't have the same explosion to the basket that he's been known for. And he admitted afterward that he couldn't move laterally too well because of the ankle, which he estimated was 60-65 percent healthy.

But he still managed to finish as Arkansas' third-leading scorer, making three field goals and 3-of-4 free throws while being limited to 16 minutes.

Thomas was one of the few offensive threats the Razorbacks had on a night when nothing seemed to go right.

"If you ask me, he played well in some positions," Arkansas point guard Gary Ervin said of Thomas. "He was a step slow, but he made a couple of moves that he usually makes."

Thomas' status was in question heading into Friday's game. It was uncertain how much he'd be able to play after severely spraining his left ankle in the first two minutes of a 77-56 loss to Florida in Sunday's championship game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Arkansas coach Stan Heath indicated during a news conference Thursday that he hoped the junior would be able to play around 20 minutes off the bench.

"At first, there was some doubt, but I took some medicine or whatever to kind of kill the pain a little bit. But obviously, I still feel it a little bit. But I went out there, and I gave the best shot that I could."

Michael Washington started in Thomas' place, but the freshman couldn't be the inside presence that he has shown flashes of lately. He scored only three points in 19 minutes.

Thomas came in at the 15:12 mark in the first half, and he kept coming in and out of the game despite clearly being in pain.

When the final buzzer sounded, the junior limped toward USC's players to shake their hands. It was obvious his ankle was bothering him.

"It's really bad right now," Thomas said.

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