Cincinnati's worst fear was confirmed Tuesday morning when senior forward Armein Kirkland was told he was done for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Kirkland was injured trying to jump up with the ball to the basket during the first half of 70-59 loss Monday at Connecticut. At the time, he had scored 14 points in 12 minutes. He had also done a decent job guarding Connecticut's Rudy Gay.
Kirkland had also played good defense on Marquette's Steve Novak, handling him less than a week after Novak lit up Connecticut for 41 points. Novak had 17 in a loss to the Bearcats in Milwaukee.
Cincinnati associate athletic director Brian Teter told ESPN.com Tuesday morning that the results of Kirkland's MRI Tuesday showed an ACL injury. Kirkland had said after the game Monday that he was told by Connecticut's doctors that it was likely a tear of the ACL. He said he heard a pop when he came down.
Teter said surgery is scheduled for Friday.
Kirkland, who has played in 16 games this season, can't petition for a redshirt season. His college career is over.
Interim Cincinnati coach Andy Kennedy now has eight remaining players and only two that are 6-feet-7 or taller without the 6-8 Kirkland (9.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg). Kennedy will likely look to point guards Jihad Muhammad, Chadd Moore and Xavier (NAIA-New Orleans) transfer 6-9 Ronald Allen to pick up the defense, passing, rebounding and scoring slack. This also puts more pressure on the 6-7 James White (17.6 ppg) and 6-6 Eric Hicks (15.1 ppg) to score.
The Bearcats (13-3, 2-1 in the Big East) will play Syracuse on Saturday in front of their first sold-out crowd at the Shoemaker Center. The Bearcats go to Xavier next week, and after a home game against Rutgers are at Louisville. Teeter announced that Cincinnati has also sold out the Louisville game on Feb. 6.
Cincinnati has 14 regular-season games remaining and has an NCAA Tournament resume at this point but would likely have to go .500 the rest of the way to feel like it was in the mix for a bid.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.