Jen Smith on Basketball

On eve of season opener, Kentucky women lose player to knee injury

Kentucky forward Ogechi Anyagaligbo will not play this season after injuring her knee in Sunday night’s exhibition game.

Anyagaligbo, a 6-foot-1 transfer, was the America East Rookie of the Year from Stony Brook who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules.

The forward tore her anterior cruciate ligament in the exhibition game against Southern Indiana on Sunday night. The Cats open their season at Memorial Coliseum on Friday against Sacramento State.

“Really so sad for her because she’s worked so hard and she had to sit last year for transfer rules and now tough blow for her to absorb,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said on Thursday. “She’s had a great attitude so far. She’ll get the very best care she could possibly receive.”

No timetable has been set for Anyagaligbo’s surgery.

The forward from Miami, Fla., was expected to provide valuable minutes at both post positions. She came on in relief of senior Alyssa Rice in the exhibition.

In a preseason interview with the Herald-Leader, Mitchell said the forward was gaining confidence still on both sides of the floor, but was one of UK’s more physical post players.

“She’s got kind of an old-school deal around the basket where she can get her body into you and make some plays,” Mitchell said last month of Anyagaligbo, who averaged 10.1 points and nine rebounds a game in her rookie season at Stony Brook.

She had four points and one rebound in six minutes during the exhibition win.

The Cats have much more post depth than a season ago when they were forced to play 6-foot-1 guard Makenzie Cann regularly down low, but their depth this season is young.

It includes Tatyana Wyatt, a 6-foot-2 freshman forward from Columbus, Ga., and Dorie Harrison, a 6-foot-3 freshman forward from Nashville as well as Rice.

Freshman KeKe McKinney, a 6-1 freshman, could play at the four spot for UK, but she had been more of a swing player looking at more time on the perimeter for her outside shooting ability.

McKinney and Cann are both capable of playing at the small or power forward spots for UK, which could use to a four-guard lineup pretty regularly this season.

Mitchell called it a “tough blow for Ogechi” and for Kentucky.

“She’s still really an important part of our program and will make an impact on our team.”

• Walk-on guard Paige Poffenberger will not be available to play in the game against the Hornets on Friday night after taking an elbow to the head in practice. She’s working her way through the concussion protocol.

UK is hopeful that Poffenberger will be able to return by the game against Gardner-Webb on Sunday.

Jennifer Smith: 859-231-3241, @jenheraldleader