Arizona guard Jemarl Baker has a broken wrist and will miss the final two months of the Wildcats' season, UA coach Sean Miller said on his radio show Monday.
Baker, who was the Wildcats' second leading scorer (12.0 points) is likely to have surgery to repair the wrist. He had been in a shooting slump lately, going 1 for 15 from 3-point range in his last three games but was playing hurt the entire time: He suffered an ankle injury in the first game (at Washington State) and then injured his wrist on Saturday against UCLA.
Miller said the injury appeared to happen "not even two minutes into the game," though Baker went on to play a total of 23 minutes, including seven in the second half before he finally went to the bench.
Miller said after Saturday's game that Baker would probably get an X-ray that evening but no updates were available until Miller's show. He said during the show that UA knew Baker "was a candidate for a season-ending injury" after his postgame X-ray.
"It's very sad," Miller said. "You could spin it a lot of different ways. The truth of the matter is we lost one of our best players, we lost one of our leaders, we lost one of our leading scorers.
"He's going to be a big, big loss."
A reserve combo guard last season, Baker moved into a featured role for the Wildcats immediately this season. He had 33 points with 7-for-9 shooting in UA's Jan. 7 win over NAU and 29 points while hitting 8 for 13 3s against Stanford on Jan. 19.
Baker's absence leaves Miller the choice of starting two bigger wings, freshmen Dalen Terry and Bennedict Mathurin, along with point guard James Akinjo or starting combo guard Terrell Brown and Akinjo in a smaller backcourt, with one of the bigger wings at small forward.
Miller said on his show that he would actually shake up his entire lineup: Starting Brown and Mathurin along with Akinjo on the perimeter, with Christian Koloko returning to the starting lineup at center.
That would move Terry and Jordan Brown to the bench.
"I think inserting Terrell as our most experienced guard makes sense and Benn Mathurin at small forward in place of Dalen gives us a better group," Miller said. "It's not that Dalen has done anything wrong. Dalen has given us some great, great minutes but I think the grouping of James, Terrell and Benn will function better together, especially at the beginning of each half."
Freshman combo guard Kerr Kriisa is scheduled to become eligible on Feb. 6, giving Miller additional options with Baker out.
Miller said the Wildcats would have to be careful with their lack of depth in the backcourt until Kriisa becomes eligible, although he said freshman wing Tibet Gorener could be pressed into action "in a pinch."
"We're moving on," Miller said. "The only thing that matters for us right now is to grow, improve and be ready for Oregon State and win that game. To go on the road in the Pac-12 and win is hard.
"As is the case with injuries, I worried more about Jemarl. He's worked incredibly hard, sacrificed a lot, got himself in the best shape of his life ... he was having a great season. We wish him well and we'll see him back again on the court down the road."