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Arizona Wildcats lose Ben Mathurin to injury; Kerr Kriisa available soon

Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin (0) dunks against Arizona State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Arizona guard Ben Mathurin did not suffer a broken ankle and should be able to return relatively soon, Wildcats head coach Sean Miller said after his team on Monday completed a two-game sweep of the Arizona State Sun Devils.

“There’s different severities of a sprain, as we all know,” Miller told reporters after the game. “I don’t think his is significant, but it might be the first ankle injury he’s had. If it’s happened to you before, it scares you more than everything. My hope over the next couple of days is that we’re able to develop some confidence in him and he’ll see he’s going to be alright.

“He’s going to be OK. It’s just, I don’t know what the next few days or this week will look like.”

In the 80-67 win over the Sun Devils in Tucson, the Wildcats closed the game without Mathurin by leaning more heavily on starting guards James Akinjo and Terrell Brown, who played 38 and 35 minutes, respectively.

Arizona also turned to bench wing Dalen Terry and sprinkled in little-used freshman Tibet Gorener as ASU pressed Arizona to close a large deficit in the second half.

Miller remains concerned over his backcourt depth with Arizona having already lost guard Jemarl Baker to a wrist injury, possibly for the rest of the year.

“We’re running out of players, if you want my honest answer. We don’t have any guards,” Miller said as Arizona prepares to face Stanford on Thursday and California on Saturday.

Help could be on the way.

Freshman guard Kerr Kriisa, who the NCAA ruled ineligible to play for 70% of Arizona’s scheduled games because of he previously played for a pro team overseas, is coming off a concussion and broken nose. He’s been cleared for non-contact work and might be able to participate in contact practices this week, Miller said.

“Good news is Kerr Kriisa will be back with us eligible to play in games when we go to Utah and Colorado,” Miller said of the games on Feb. 4 and Feb. 6.

“He’s very, very close, if not even tomorrow, where he’ll be cleared to reestablish himself, practice. We need to get him to practice a few times so he can be the most ready he can be. He comes to us at a very, very good time.”