Auburn’s basketball team took a big hit in the closing moments of the first half against South Carolina. Trailing 45-26 to the Gamecocks with about 90 seconds to play before halftime, Desean Murray tried to take a charge as Wesley Myers drove into the lane.
Myers put up a floater, crashed into Murray, and Murray went backward as Anfernee McLemore came from behind. Murray’s shoulder rolled into McLemore’s ankle, breaking it badly. Both teams were visibly upset and most of Auburn’s players looked distraught with McLemore screaming in pain on the floor. The stretcher came out almost immediately, and after an air cast was placed on McLemore’s left ankle, he was taken off the floor, waving to the fans in attendance.
Obviously, Auburn wasn’t playing well in this game before the injury, and so we’ll see how things shape out in the second half, but McLemore’s injury will have repercussions far beyond today. The Tigers now lose the SEC’s best shot-blocker and their most reliable front court player. McLemore averaged 7.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 2.7 blocks per game. Desean Murray was a more reliable rebounder, but McLemore often matched up against the biggest player on the floor, and did it well. Auburn’s going to have to figure out how to deal with the hole created without McLemore.
Horace Spencer has played better this season, but he’ll have to become a much more effective guy to take McLemore’s place completely. Not only was McLemore good in the paint, but he was a danger to step out and bury a three, shooting 40% in limited action from behind the arc.
While Desean Murray should still be able to keep up the rebounding, he won’t have McLemore’s help on the inside, and so we’ll have to see what Bruce Pearl chooses to do with his lineup. He could make a shift and try to run a smaller five on the floor, or give Spencer more minutes, but either way the team won’t be as effective as it was before.
Here’s to hoping McLemore can come back in a big way and recover completely from this injury. We don’t know the official diagnosis and outlook yet, but it sure didn’t look good. War Eagle, Anfernee. Get better.