Arizona Wildcats guard Kadeem Allen missed both games on the Washington road trip with what was originally a scary finger injury, but coach Sean Miller did offer up some good news about the situation.
Allen suffered the injury on his right hand in practice Tuesday.
“His bone popped out of his skin. We thought we might have lost him for the year,” Miller said on Sportsradio 1290 after Arizona’s 76-68 victory at Washington on Saturday night.
“I think the good news is that, because he didn’t play, over the next couple of days that is going to heal up. And from what I feel and from what I’m being told, he’s going to be full go as we go into next week.”
Just in time. Arizona has its final homestand of the season — and it’s big: USC on Thursday night and UCLA on Saturday with ESPN’s College GameDay in town.
Allen is averaging 9.5 and 3.2 assists per game and should be a shoo-in for the Pac-12 All-Defense team, if not be the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, although that award could go to one of Oregon’s shot-blocking big men.
“If you ever want to know how good a defensive player Kadeem Allen is, just watch our team without him and when he is playing,” Miller said.
Without him Saturday night (and also without starting center Dusan Ristic to an ankle injury), Miller had to dust off his rarely used 2-3 zone in the second half. That helped protect against potential foul trouble and it also changed the pace of the game and slowed down the playmaking of Washington star guard Markelle Fultz.
Fultz ended up with 26 points and got to the free throw line 15 times.
“Going zone in the second half, which is something we seldom do, you don’t know if that’s going to work or not. I think it changed the game,” Miller said. “I give our players a lot of credit. We work on it every day, but it’s not a priority.
“Were we great with the zone? No. But for the most part we knew what we were doing and I think it changed the momentum.”
Allen was dressed out for the game, but Miller said the senior only half-heartedly lobbied to play.
“He did but he didn’t,” Miller said.
“I think looking at his eyes, it was like, ‘Coach if you need me, I’ll run through a wall, but, boy, if you don’t need me, I’d feel a lot more comfortable not going out there.’ … To his credit, he tried hard in practice yesterday just catching the ball.”
Milled added that there likely would have been a risk of aggravating the injury had Allen played. Turns out, Arizona survived without him. But better teams await this week.