Buckles will miss UK game with finger injury

No. 20 Louisville will be without Rakeem Buckles when they play No. 11 Kentucky Friday at noon at the KFC Yum! Center. Rick Pitino said the sophomore forward injured his finger in practice Thursday morning and could miss a "couple" weeks of action.

No. 20 Louisville will be without Rakeem Buckles Friday when they host No. 11 Kentucky at noon at the KFC Yum! Center.

Buckles sustained a "spiral fracture" in his finger during practice Thursday morning and will miss a "couple weeks," according to Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

"He'll probably have surgery sometime this afternoon," Pitino said. "He did it on a crossover move I think hitting Kyle Kuric's hand. His finger was mangled.

"The good news is obviously we have a tremendous hand unit at Jewish hospital and he'll get great care on this."

A 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, Buckles is Louisville's top rebounder at 7.5 boards per game and ranks 10th in the Big East. He has had seven or more rebounds in six games this season.

Rakeem Buckles injured his finger in practice Thursday morning. (ITV/Jim Davis)
Buckles' loss creates a major problem for a team that has struggled rebounding at times this season. In their only loss this season, Drexel out-rebounded Louisville by 20. Kentucky out-rebounds their foes by six per game, while power forward Terrence Jones and center Josh Harrellson both average more than nine rebounds per game.

"It affects our [rotation] significantly," Pitino said. "We've got to get Stephan Van Treese to step up in that position."

Van Treese, and 6-5 junior Kyle Kuric, who is listed as the starter at power forward, have a difficult challenge of trying to matchup with Jones, an athletic 6-foot-9 power forward who leads Kentucky in scoring at 18.2 points per game.

"It's a tough loss," Pitino said. "We've had tough losses starting with [Jared] Swopshire, and then we had Bullet [Elisha Justice] and Mike [Marra].

"We're used to it now. It really doesn't affect us as much mentally as you may think. It will affect us physically obviously because he's our leading rebounder."

In addition to being the Cardinals leading rebounder, Buckles also has been shooting the ball well in recent games. He was 5 of 6 from the field against WKU and 2 of 3 against Morgan State and had made all five of his three-point attempts the last two games.

"I think Rock was shooting the ball real well and that's going to be missed," Pitino said.

Louisville now will need big efforts from Kuric and Van Treese, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward. Kuric scored 25 points against Morgan State Monday night, making 7 of 10 three's, but had only three rebounds. Van Treese played just nine minutes against Morgan State and had two points and 3 rebounds.

"When Buckles went down everybody paused and stopped for a second," junior guard Chris Smith said. "But then everybody said okay, and Van Treese jumped in and filled the spot pretty well. We're a team. We don't dwell on one players loss."

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