TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama basketball is set to receive a bit of an injury boost over the weekend but will still be short-handed for its game against No. 4 Baylor on Saturday. During his Friday news conference, Alabama head coach Nate Oats provided an injury report on his team, stating that Juwan Gary (facial contusion) should play in a “some type of limited role” while fellow forward Darius Miles is set to miss the game with a hyper-extended knee.
Gary suffered his injury after taking an elbow to the face during Alabama’s game against LSU on Jan. 19. Friday, Oats said Gary has been practicing with a temporary face mask and is set to get a new mask for Saturday’s game. The forward has missed Alabama’s last two games against Missouri and Georgia.
Gary has started 11 games of 16 appearances for Alabama this season. The 6-foot-6, 218-pound forward is averaging 8.2 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 53.7% from the floor. On top of Gary’s added production, Oats believes the redshirt sophomore should also help provide a veteran presence on the court as Alabama looks to shake off its disappointing loss to Georgia on Tuesday.
“He definitely talks. He’s about energy,” Oats said of Gary. “We need guys who are about energy. We need everyday guys. He’s an everyday guy. We’ve got him and [James] Rojas both now, they both play that way. You can play them together. You’re a little smaller with Juwan at the four and Rojas at the five, but sometimes that’s not the worst thing for us. We played a lot of small-ball last year, and we’re pretty good it.”
Miles suffered his injury against Georgia as he had to be helped off the court after landing awkwardly in the second half. The 6-foot-6, 185-pound forward has made one start over 19 appearances. He is averaging 6.8 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 41.3% from the floor.
“Darius has not practiced since the game,” Oats said. “The MRI came back good. He hyper-extended his knee, he’s got a bone bruise in there. He’s got to get the bone healed up to where he can deal with the pain, but it’s not going to be anything long-term.
"Hopefully, we’ll have better answers to that at some point next week. I’m not sure about the Auburn game, possibly the Kentucky game, hopefully.”
Alabama (13-7, 4-4 in the SEC) will host Baylor (18-2, 6-2 in the Big 12) on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. It will be the first of a challenge three-game stretch for the Crimson Tide as it is set to travel to No. 1 Auburn on Feb. 1 before hosting No. 12 Kentucky on Feb. 5.