Ratliff Ready To Go For Duke

The wait is finally over for A.J. Ratliff. Five weeks after breaking his thumb, Indiana's 6-3, 185-pound sophomore guard has been cleared to play by team physician Dr. Larry Renk. Ratliff, who has been back practicing with the team for two weeks, will be available for Wednesday night's matchup with No. 1 Duke at 9 p.m. in Assembly Hall.

The wait is finally over for A.J. Ratliff.

Five weeks after breaking his thumb, Indiana's 6-3, 185-pound sophomore guard has been cleared to play by team physician Dr. Larry Renk. Ratliff, who has been back practicing with the team for two weeks, will be available for Wednesday night's matchup with No. 1 Duke at 9 p.m. in Assembly Hall.

"I'm good. I'm playing Wednesday," said Ratliff, who averaged 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds as a freshman. "I got my x-rays (Monday), and everything is good to go."

The latest obstacle that had kept Ratliff off the floor wasn't so much his thumb as the cast that team doctors had him wearing. Last week, IU's medical staff had him in a hard cast to protect his thumb, which has allowed him to practice with the team. But that cast was deemed too hard to play in a game with by referees, which kept Ratliff sidelined until the thumb healed to the point that he could wear a soft cast.

"The doctor said that if I was going to play (Saturday) I had to wear that hard cast," said Ratliff.

But Monday's x-rays showed significant improvement in the thumb, and Ratliff has been fitted with a soft cast that will allow him to play in a game he's been excited about for some time. Indiana's match-up with No. 1 Duke marks the first time IU has played the nation's top-ranked team since 2000, when the Hoosiers upset top-ranked Michigan State, 58-56, on a last-second 3-pointer by Kirk Haston.

"This is the biggest game, one you want to play in," said Ratliff.

Ratliff has also been excited about taking the court with a team that is averaging more than 100 points per game while getting off to a 3-0 start, one that is playing an up-and-down style that seems a perfect fit for a player with his versatility and athleticism.

"I've been anxious since the first game," said Ratliff. "Ever since they started gelling, I've been like, ‘I want to be a part of that.' Scoring more than 100 points a game, I want to be a part of that."

While it's been a frustrating experience being sidelined, he has been excited to see the team's progress. Indiana is shooting 56 percent from the field and 58 percent from the 3-point line in its first three games, and now it is adding a player in Ratliff who led the team in 3-point field goal shooting a year ago.

"Things have been great so far, watching the team get up and down the floor," said Ratliff. "Marco Killingsworth is probably the best player I've ever played with. We're a really good basketball team. Being in practice with them, it's at even another level from where we were before I broke my hand."


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