COLUMBIA, S.C. — University of Kentucky officials confirmed late Sunday that point guard Janee Thompson was out for the season with a broken leg and dislocated ankle. The injury occurred Sunday during the No. 10 Wildcats' 68-60 loss to No. 1 South Carolina.
The crowd of more than 17,000 went silent as Thompson's screams echoed through Colonial Life Arena with 4:08 left to go. Teammates and opponents hid their faces and started to cry.
After stabilizing Thompson's dislocated ankle on site, doctors found the broken fibula, said Susan Lax, a UK spokeswoman.
"We are so sad for Janee," Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said in a release late Sunday. "We never want to see a player sustain an injury like that. We are particularly sad for Janee because she's worked so hard and has really come into her own. She will continue to make an impact on our team with her leadership.
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"She will stay heavily involved and everyone will just have to raise their level up to contribute and make up for a tough loss. We are going to play as hard as we can for Janee and make sure we have a special season for her."
During a scramble for a loose ball, South Carolina's Khadijah Sessions dived on the floor, undercutting Thompson's legs from behind. The UK guard's legs got trapped underneath and turned awkwardly.
"When I turned, I kind of just, it didn't look right," Gamecocks forward Aleighsa Welch said. "It didn't look the way a leg is supposed to look. It kind of just, I honestly think it sent shock waves through everybody."
Thompson, a junior from Chicago, was recruited heavily by South Carolina and even went on a visit to Columbia, so the coaches and players know the UK guard well.
"It was horrific what happened to Janee," Gamecocks Coach Dawn Staley said afterward. "Our hearts go out to her, and we want to make sure she's OK."
The players said it was difficult to go back to the game after what they witnessed. Standing, everyone in the arena gave Thompson long, loud applause as she was taken off the court on a stretcher, a towel on her face.
"No matter who you're playing against, you don't want to see something like that happen to somebody," Welch said. "You can be the biggest competitors in the world, but you have a soft spot when something like that happens because it's heartbreaking.
"... It's just a freak accident. ... Our prayers are with her. I told (UK guard) Makayla Epps after the game to let her know our prayers are with her and that team and we're hoping she can come back to a speedy recovery."
Kentucky's coach thanked the South Carolina medical staff for its work in a difficult situation.
"What a great group of people that cared for her out there on the court," said Mitchell, who kneeled next to Thompson as doctors worked on her leg. "I can't say enough about those folks. Really, really just leapt into action and were extremely competent and extremely comforting to her."
Thompson came into the game as the Cats' fourth-leading scorer at 10.1 points a game, including 10.7 in Southeastern Conference play. She leads the team in assists (49) and is second on the team in steals (28).
Before the injury, Thompson had started in a team-best 31 straight games. She has been clutch in several come-from-behind victories for the Cats this season.
Mitchell likely will turn to Jennifer O'Neill and Epps to split the point guard duties. With Bria Goss (broken thumb) still out, UK's lineup is down to eight players, just seven who are averaging double-digit minutes this season.
Still raw from witnessing his point guard's injury, Mitchell was thrown out of the game two minutes later for not getting a call at his end of the floor.
The Kentucky coach, who had been warned several times throughout the game, was assessed a technical foul and then tossed just a few seconds later.
"I can't comment with anything that goes on with officiating, that's just against the rules," he told reporters after the loss. "You guys can look at the game and you can make your own judgments. I would love to have a good discussion with you, but that's not allowed."
In all, Kentucky was assessed 22 fouls to 13 for the Gamecocks and South Carolina shot 26 free throws (four on technical fouls for the ejection) to 14 attempts for the Cats.
When Mitchell started pleading his case heavily in the second half, the Cats had seven fouls called compared to one for USC.