North Carolina freshman forward Tyler Zeller suffered a “serious injury” to his left hand and wrist on a dunk attempt late in Tuesday night’s win over Kentucky, an injury that will keep him out of the Tar Heels’ lineup for the foreseeable future.
Tyler Zeller won’t make the Tar Heels’ trip west after sustaining a wrist injury against Kentucky.
North Carolina spokesman Steve Kirschner said the school would have more information on the injury once team doctors examined Zeller later Wednesday afternoon in Chapel Hill. Kirschner said that Zeller would not likely join the team on its Wednesday evening flight to Santa Barbara, Calif., for its game against UC-Santa Barbara on Friday night, or the team’s three games next week at the Maui Invitational in Hawaii.
Zeller, who started UNC’s first two games in place of returning national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough, was fouled on the attempted dunk by Kentucky’s Ramon Harris with 1:26 left. Zeller hit the court hard and landed on his left wrist. He was helped off the court and immediately went to the locker room.
The 7-foot Zeller scored a team-high 18 points in UNC’s season-opening win over Pennsylvania last Saturday in Chapel Hill. Zeller wasn’t effective against Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson Tuesday, scoring just two points in 22 minutes.
Hansbrough hasn’t played this season due to a stress reaction in his right shin. He told ESPN.com Tuesday night that he would practice Wednesday and hoped he could play Friday night. But Williams cautioned that the Tar Heels would be very conservative in bringing Hansbrough back to ensure he’s 100 percent.
Meanwhile, senior forward Marcus Ginyard is also out with a stress fracture in his left foot. Ginyard said Tuesday night that he would take his time recovering, too, and hoped to be back in early December.
In Hansbrough’s absence, junior forward Deon Thompson scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds against Kentucky. Freshman forward Ed Davis recorded his second straight double-figure rebound game, giving him 24 boards in two games.
With Hansbrough uncertain and Zeller and Ginyard out, Thompson and Davis could start against UCSB on Friday and against Alabama, Notre Dame or Texas next week in Maui — without any true frontcourt backup.
*****from Andy Katz espn.com and Andy Durham gspn.com/greensborosports.com*****