North Carolina coach Roy Williams is hoping star wing Harrison Barnes will be able to play when his fifth-ranked team faces No. 7 Wisconsin on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
However, “if we had a game today, he would not have played,” Williams said during his Monday night radio show, adding that Barnes was held out of practice earlier in the day.
Barnes, the team’s leading scorer and a preseason All America, rolled his ankle while scrambling on the sideline for a loose ball during UNC's 90-80 loss to UNLV on Saturday in the Las Vegas Invitational title game. He immediately flashed the tired signal and went to the bench. Although he waved off the trainer, he had a towel over his head for several minutes, before eventually returning to the game.
He left Orleans Arena on crutches -- a move, a team spokesman said at the time, that was a precautionary measure. Sunday morning, when the team left Las Vegas, the crutches were gone.
The ACC Preseason Player of the Year made only 6-of-16 shots during the Tar Heels' first loss of the season, finishing with 15 points and five rebounds. He’s averaging a team-leading 17.3 points, plus 4.8 rebounds, this season.
If he cannot play, Williams said, sophomore Reggie Bullock and freshman P.J. Hairston will have to play more minutes and pick up the slack. Bullock is averaging 7.8 points per game, while Hairston is averaging 9.7.