Star freshman Nerlens Noel hurt in Kentucky's loss

Posted: February 13, 2013

KENTUCKY MIGHT have lost more than just a key conference game; the No. 25 Wildcats might have lost a key player.

Freshman sensation Nerlens Noel, the nation's leading shot-blocker, injured his left knee in the second half and did not return as visiting Kentucky fell to No. 7 Florida, 69-52, Tuesday night.

Noel, who averages 10.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.5 blocks a game for the defending national champions, landed awkwardly on his leg with about 8 minutes to play. He screamed in pain as trainers rushed to his side. Teammates carried him to the locker room for tests. He later left the arena in a wheelchair and was taken to a hospital for examination.

"I'm physically sick right now for him," coach John Calipari said. "What I'm hoping is it's not the extreme. I'm hoping it's some sort of twist, but we don't know."

Noel had eight points and three blocks before he was hurt.

"I don't know what ended up happening, but it was clear from him moaning in pain that he was struggling," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "I admire the way he plays and I admire his energy. I don't know how badly he's hurt, but the energy came from a hustle play."

For Florida, Scottie Wilbekin had 14 points and eight assists and Pat Young recorded his sixth double-double of the season - 12 points and 11 rebounds - as the Gators (20-3, 10-1 Southeastern Conference) snapped a five-game losing streak in the series and solidified their position atop the SEC standings.

The Wildcats (17-7, 8-3) lost for the first time in six games. Willie Cauley-Stein and Julius Mays led Kentucky with 10 points apiece.

The Gators opened a double-digit lead, 31-19, in the first half on consecutive three-pointers by Wilbekin, Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton. Young and fellow big man Erik Murphy, who was in early foul trouble, carried the load in the second half.

In another Top 25 game:

* At Michigan State, Gary Harris had 17 points and Derrick Nix added 16 as the No. 8 Spartans (21-4, 10-2 Big Ten) pounded No. 4 Michigan, 75-52. Trey Burke's 18 points led the Wolverines (21-4, 8-4).

Noteworthy * 

Northwestern forward Jared Swopshire will miss the rest of the season after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

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