CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes, who sprained his right ankle Saturday, practiced fully Tuesday and "barring unexpected setbacks, he is expected to play versus Wisconsin" on Wednesday, according to a team spokesman.
Barnes, the fifth-ranked Tar Heels' 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 in the Las Vegas Invitational title game. He immediately flashed the tired signal and went to the bench. Although he waived 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. Coach Roy Williams said Tuesday that X-rays were negative.
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.
North Carolina will host Wisconsin (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN. The Tar Heels will then travel to Kentucky on Saturday to face the Wildcats, who replaced UNC at No. 1.
Meanwhile, Williams vented for the second straight day about UNC fans
who sold their tickets in the section behind the bench to UNLV fans
in Las Vegas. He was asked during a news conference about
chastising those fans during his radio show Monday night,
responding Tuesday by saying: "I don't like our fans to help the
other team by either giving or selling their tickets."
He also referenced a North Carolina-North Carolina State game in
2002 when Wolfpack fans bought up plenty of seats in the Smith
Center. Williams was coach at Kansas then as UNC lost to N.C. State
on the way to an 8-20 season under Matt Doherty.
"It's something that's always bothered me," Williams said of
home fans selling their tickets to opposing fans. "It will always
bother me. A hundred years ago I'm watching in Lawrence, Kansas,
and North Carolina's playing North Carolina State and there were 5
million red shirts in the crowd. And if I'd had a BB gun, 5 million
red shirts would have had a burned rear end because I just don't
like those kinds of things.
"I mean, seriously. Do you guys like it when all the Internet
people beat you on a story? I mean, that's what it is. It's
competition. And if you were my friend, you are not going to help
Information from ESPN.com UNC basketball blogger Robbi Pickeral and The Associated Press was used in this report.