Verdell Jones III out with ACL tear
Coach Tom Crean fought tears Thursday evening after Jones injured his knee in the 15th-ranked Hoosiers' 75-58 victory over Penn State, saying he was hopeful but did not "feel good" about the situation.
"This is heartbreaking news," Crean said in the university's news release Friday. "His contribution to our program over the course of his career, and especially this season, is immeasurable. He was playing his best basketball and really had embraced his role on this team as a player and as a leader."
Jones had landed awkwardly, but untouched, in the first half against the Nittany Lions. The veteran screamed in agony as trainers and Crean rushed to his side.
Jones eventually walked off the court with assistance, unable to put any weight on his right leg. An MRI Thursday night revealed the torn ACL.
"We'll be missing a lot of leadership. I mean he's been through it all. He's been here with me and the other seniors. He's a great leader, great composure on the court, especially when we're in tight situations," guard Matt Roth said Thursday. "But we've matured a lot as a team and everybody's at that point now where there's no class to what you are. We're a basketball team and it's next man up."
Indiana lost its first game without Jones on Friday, falling to Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
Prior to the injury, Jones had enjoyed one of the best stretches of his career, which he ends at No. 23 on Indiana's all-time scoring list with 1,347 points, averaging 11.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Jones will graduate this spring with a degree in sports communication.
He was a freshman in 2008-09, the season after Crean began a rebuilding process that followed Kelvin Sampson's dismissal. He helped the Hoosiers (25-7, 11-7) get through some of the worst years in school history, and would have participated in his first NCAA tournament this season.
Indiana this season became the first Big Ten school in nearly six decades to beat a No. 1 and No. 2 team in the same season. The Hoosiers' win against Penn State also was their first postseason victory since beating Gonzaga in the first round of the 2007 NCAA tournament.
Their previous win in Big Ten tournament play was a 61-56 decision over Wisconsin on March 10, 2006.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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