Wright suffered the injury early in the second half of the Bearcats 75-70 win over DePaul. He was limited to only 22 minutes after an incredible first half where Wright left the game with 20 points, seven assists, and two rebounds. He shot 8 for 11 from the field helping Cincinnati gain a 14 point lead before the Blue Demons made a run closing the gap with Wright on the bench.
His status is uncertain when the Bearcats host the #25 Marquette Golden Eagles on Jan. 19. Marquette jumped into the AP’s rankings for the first time this season while Cincinnati fell out of the rankings after being as high #8 in December. To say this is an important game is an understatement as the 4-0 Golden Eagles try to remain undefeated in conference play while the 3-2 Bearcats look to avoid their fourth straight loss on home court. The disappointing losses on home court are by far the biggest reason why Cincinnati has fallen out of the top 25.
Without Wright, the Bearcats struggled to hold onto the ball in the second half against DePau,l and that trend will likely continue against a better Marquette team. The game plan is to use JaQuon Parker and Ge’Lawn Guyn as the primary ball handlers if Wright is limited or can’t play. Both are not anywhere close to the ball handler Wright is, or nearly as good at taking care of the ball like he can. Parker finished with six turnovers against DePaul while Guyn has played limited minutes this season, recording only 10 assists with 12 turnovers on the year.
Losing Wright’s ball handling and playmaking is only part of the equation, as suddenly the pressure put on Sean Kilpatrick to score is instantly ramped up. Wright has been easing the scoring load all season for Kilpatrick as the team’s second-leading scorer averaging 15.1 points, to go along with his 3.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds. With Wright out of the line-up, the Golden Eagles will be able to focus defensively on Kilpatrick a lot more than they would have if the senior guard were able to go.
Time will tell how severe the knee sprain is but one thing is for sure – the injury couldn’t have come at a worse possible time for Cincinnati. Not only is this a big game for the Bearcats as they try to fix things at home, but they’ll be traveling to face the Syracuse Orange two days later on Jan. 21.
Cincinnati’s positive conference record is about to face its greatest challenge of the season, with perhaps one of their best players unable to be a factor.