Ben McLemore feared the worst late on Monday night. As he lay on the court in pain after sustaining what turned out to be a sprained ankle, McLemore, for a short period of time, was left to wonder how much time, if any, he'd be forced to miss.
McLemore, the 6-foot-5, 195-pound shooting guard from St. Louis, Mo., was in a state of panic on Monday night. In scoring a game-high 17 points, McLemore helped No. 4 ranked Kansas (15-1; 3-0) continue its dominance over Baylor by defeating the Bears, 61-44.
However, with 2:44 left in the first Big Monday telecast of the year, McLemore was helped to the locker room after sustaining a sprained ankle.
At the time, McLemore, who said he heard a pop, feared the worst.
Following a few days of rest and treatment, McLemore is scheduled to return to the court today (Thursday) and, according to Kansas head coach Bill Self, should be close to 100 percent for Saturdays road contest at Texas.
"I think he's fine," said Self on Thursday afternoon. "I think that he'll practice today and I think he's a little tender and sore. I think it scared him as much as anything the other night, because he said he thought he heard something pop. I think he's fine.
"We just had a shooting practice yesterday (Wednesday), and he shot on his own," he added. "He didn't do much cutting, but he's going to be close to 100 percent come Saturday, I think."
McLemore, who missed all of last season as a partial qualifier, ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring at 16.4 points per game and with an 87.7 free throw percentage. He has five games of 20 points or more including 22 in KU's victory at Ohio State (Dec. 22) and 33 in Kansas' overtime win against Iowa State on Jan. 9.
McLemore's 33-point effort is the most scored by a Big 12 player this season and the most by a Kansas freshman since All-American Danny Manning scored 35 against Oklahoma State in 1985.
Senior Elijah Johnson was visibly concerned about McLemore following KU's victory over Baylor. During the post-game press conference, Johnson, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound guard from Las Vegas, Nev., said McLemore didn't deserve to be hurt or cheated out of playing.
"My heart dropped to see someone like that who works hard get injured," said Johnson on Monday night. "He always tries to do everything right and he just doesn't deserve to be hurt right now or be cheated out of playing. I feel like he's been cheated out of playing long enough.
"In the locker room after the game he seemed alright, I think he just panicked more than anything," he added. "Ben will bounce back, I'm sure."
Thankfully for Johnson and the University of Kansas men's basketball team, when the Jayhawks and Longhorns take the court on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. (central), a healthy Ben McLemore will be ready to go.