The good news is that Arizona guard Kadeem Allen should be back after missing two games because of a dislocated pinky finger on his right hand. The better news is that coach Sean Miller sees a silver lining to his absence.
“Hopefully, it’s a positive for Kadeem,” Miller said.
“He’s led our team in minutes and sometimes when a guy can get just a brief stretch away from running for a couple of games, you have kind of a renewed energy.
“That would be a heck of a thing to have him really at his best physically down the stretch, because we ask a lot of him, especially with how much we depend upon him as a defensive player.”
Bottom line: Miller said he expects Allen and center Dusan Ristic, who missed a game-and-a-half last week because of a sprained ankle, to be available Thursday night when the fourth-ranked Wildcats play host to USC.
“We expect both guys to be able to play Thursday and, in some ways, we expect both guys to be fully functional as well,” Miller said.
Miller did add the caveat that he would know more after Monday’s practice.
Regarding Allen, he did add that “there is nothing structurally wrong with his hand or finger,” which he injured last Tuesday in practice. The bone popped out of his skin. He likely will wear a splint on the finger during the game.
“As long as we can get through today, I think he’ll return back to form.”
Allen is averaging 9.5 points and 3.2 assists, in addition to being arguably the top perimeter defender in the Pac-12. He is averaging 30.2 minutes per game, which is actually now second-most on the team behind Lauri Markkanen (30.6).
Ristic is averaging 11.2 points and 5.9 rebounds.
Without them, Arizona was down to seven scholarship players for most of the Washington road trip last week. Point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and center Chance Comanche played well in their absence, but with USC and UCLA coming to town, the Wildcats are hoping to be playing with a full deck.