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Padgett's knee injury puts hurt on Louisville

Louisville starting center David Padgett will likely miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

Padgett injured the knee Sunday in the Cardinals' victory over Jackson State. It was initially described as a bruised knee but an MRI of the knee Monday revealed what is officially being termed a fractured right kneecap. Coach Rick Pitino made the announcement Monday, shortly before Louisville left for a three-game swing in Las Vegas.

Pitino said that Padgett could return in 10 weeks if the knee heals quickly. If he doesn't return, Padgett, a fifth-year senior, would have to appeal for a sixth year of eligibility. He has been plagued by leg injuries since transferring to Louisville from Kansas.

"We're all devastated for David," Pitino said.

The injury is a serious blow to the sixth-rated Cardinals' national title chances. The 6-foot-11 Padgett is by far the team's best low-post defender and passer and is one of the team's leaders.

"He's our leader, he's our best passer inside, he really makes our offense go and breaks full court pressure extremely well. It certainly is a big blow to our basketball team," Pitino said.

Padgett has had a history of injuries but began this season
pain-free and moving as well as he had since transferring from
Kansas after his freshman year.

He broke his foot in a pickup game a month before his sophomore
season, then sprained a ligament in his left knee two months later.
He underwent surgery on both knees in March 2006 and didn't play
for five months.

Louisville already has been playing without power forward Juan Palacios, who suffered a less serious preseason knee injury.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.