UK banged up ahead of finale at Arkansas

Kentucky's Cason Wallace (22) drives near Vanderbilt's Ezra Manjon (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, March 1, 2023. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

No. 23 Kentucky is banged up in the backcourt ahead of its regular-season finale at Arkansas on Saturday.

Star freshman guard Cason Wallace injured his left ankle early in the second half of the Wildcats’ 68-66 home loss to Vanderbilt on Wednesday. He exited the game with 18:14 remaining and did not return.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said he is hopeful Wallace will return this weekend.

“But I don’t know,” he added. “If not, we’ve got to figure out how we (run offense) against pressure. We had to go with the guys (against the Commodores) we went with. We went with some other guys and they just were getting the ball taken from them.”

Wallace has played in 29 of 30 games and is fourth on the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game. He is also second in three-pointers made (42) and first in assists (122) and steals (56).

“Cason, they X-rayed. He’s fine,” Calipari said. “It’s not (swollen), so we’ll see.”

Without Wallace, the Wildcats turned to 6-5 shooting guard Antonio Reeves — and 6-9 forward Jacob Toppin at times — to initiate offense. Reeves finished with 14 points on Wednesday and had 3 turnovers in 29 minutes.

“Cason (makes) a lot of plays and helps many people,” Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe said. “Antonio is not a point guard. That boy is a wing. When you are put in a position (of) the point guard, you kind of miss (Wallace) a little bit. But we are going to need Cason.

“We are going to need Cason. We are going to need Sahvir (Wheeler) and the other people who have been making plays.”

Prior to Kentucky’s game against Vanderbilt, Calipari tweeted that Wheeler, the 5-9 point guard, had a minor procedure that was unrelated to the ankle injury that has sidelined him since Feb. 7.

Wheeler, in his second season at Kentucky after transferring from Georgia, has averaged 7.7 points and is second on the team with 117 assists. He is not expected to play against the Razorbacks.

“My guess right now, and what the doctors told me, it’s going to be a couple weeks, or at least that’s what they think,” Calipari said. “This is who we have right now.”

Arkansas-Kentucky is scheduled to tip off at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The game will air on CBS.

“We’ll move on now,” Calipari said. “We have a practice (Thursday). Really not doing much film. We’ll do something on Friday and get on the plane and get down there and play a terrific Arkansas team in a building, I would imagine, that’s sold out.”