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Heels lose another Tyler
The top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels (2-0) will decide Thursday evening if star Tyler Hansbrough will return from his shin problems and make his season debut on Friday night. And the Heels need a big man, because 6-foot-10 freshman Tyler Zeller is done for the year after he underwent wrist surgery on Wednesday.
Zeller suffered multiple fractures in his wrist when he landed on it late in the Tar Heels’ 77-58 win over Kentucky on Tuesday. He had started the first two games in place of Hansbrough and was injured when he missed a breakaway dunk and came down on his hand.
Zeller scored 18 points in the opener against Penn, but he recorded just 2 points against the Wildcats.
UNC has a busy stretch upcoming, starting with a game Friday night at UC Santa Barbara, which could be a mad house with the school expecting its first sellout in nearly a decade. The Heels then play three games in the Maui Invitational beginning Monday. Then they return home to play UNC Asheville before playing a huge game against Michigan State at Ford Field in Detroit in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
No luck for USC
Speaking of the Tar Heels, one of their former top recruits won’t be able to help Southern Cal this year. Alex Stepheson, who transferred to USC from North Carolina this fall for family reasons, was hoping the NCAA would allow him to have immediately eligibility.
That appeal was denied, and he will not be eligible until 2009-10. He averaged 4.3 points and 4.5 rebounds last season with the Tar Heels playing behind Tyler Hansbrough and Deon Thompson.
Stepheson, 6-foot-9, had been practicing with the Trojans, but he didn’t travel with them to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off that began Thursday. He was one of the top recruits in the country at one time but was lured away from his home state of California.
“Alex would have really helped our team this season and would have had a big impact in the Pac-10, but we will have to move beyond this now,” Coach Tim Floyd said in a statement.
Another injury for Ole Miss
Mississippi was regarded by some experts to have the best potential backcourt in the SEC this season, but that depth is lacking big time after a second injury in two weeks.
Junior guard Eniel Polynice is out for the season after knee surgery this week. The 6-foot-5 Polynice averaged 10.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season, and was viewed as the Rebels’ best defender. The Rebs will seek a medical redshirt for Polynice.
This news comes less than two weeks after losing another guard, sophomore Trevor Gaskins (an SEC All-Freshman pick last year), for the season because of an ACL tear in his knee. He started eight games last season and played in all 35, averaging 5.9 points.
Zach Graham likely will take Polynice’s starting spot, and he scored a career-high 16 points in Ole Miss’ 89-71 win over South Alabama on Tuesday night.
Mississippi is next in action Friday against Utah.
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