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Sunday December 5th

Henson injures wrist in ACC tournament quarterfinal

The junior forward played just seven minutes in UNC's 85-69 win

Junior John Henson grabs his wrist after getting injured early in the game. Henson spent most of the night on the bench tending to his wrist, seeing only 7 minutes of play time and scoring only 3 points for the night.
Buy Photos Junior John Henson grabs his wrist after getting injured early in the game. Henson spent most of the night on the bench tending to his wrist, seeing only 7 minutes of play time and scoring only 3 points for the night.

ATLANTA — Forward John Henson started Friday’s ACC tournament quarterfinal game against Maryland the same way he’s spent most of his North Carolina career — pounding the glass for defensive rebounds.

When he pulled in his fourth and final board late in the game’s fourth minute, though, Henson was fouled by Terrapin Ashton Pankey and took his 6-foot-11-inch fall to the ground hard.

After moments in pain underneath the basket, the junior stood up during coach Roy Williams’ immediate timeout clutching his left wrist.

“As you know, John can be a little dramatic,” point guard Kendall Marshall said, laughing. “At that time I didn’t know how serious it was, but when he started squirming for a long period of time, I realized that it could be something serious.”

Although it wasn’t the worst possible outcome for North Carolina, Henson was eventually added to UNC’s already long injured list, for now, with what was determined to be a sprain.

“They don’t think it’s a break for John,” Williams said. “It’s just he had trouble catching and gripping the basketball, and it is his left wrist and that’s the one he uses. That’s his dominant hand, even though he is right-handed.”

So while the Tar Heels spent the rest of the game testing bench combinations to replace its starting big man in their 85-69 win, Henson and head athletic trainer Chris Hirth were trying to figure out if he could play again.

Following Williams’ injury timeout, Henson took to the foul line and pulled up to sink his last shot of the game. It was with that third point that Henson noticed he needed a sub, which he signaled for before missing his last attempt.

“I thought I was fine until I grabbed the ball and I couldn’t bring it up like I wanted to,” Henson said. “It was rough on me, but everybody stepped up and got the win.”

With freshman James Michael McAdoo filling in for Henson, the forward hit the locker room for some tape before attempting to play once more with just over eight minutes left in the first half. Henson’s time on the court was again short lived.

“I knew I couldn’t play when Kendall threw me the ball and I was about eight feet away and I couldn’t go for the shot,” Henson said.

Although his X-rays, which were taken at halftime at the Philips Arena, came up negative, Henson’s soreness continued. After many attempts at the end of UNC’s bench, he still struggled to grip the ball, and Henson’s playing time officially capped at seven first-half minutes.

With plans to wear a brace and use ice, Henson is hopeful for a quick return.

And fellow big Tyler Zeller is just as hopeful for that return, especially when looking at what it would be like to play without Henson.

“You can’t afford injuries or foul trouble,” Zeller said. “James does play with us and it makes it pretty easy for him to come in, but he hasn’t played as much and doesn’t have as much experience so it does become difficult.”

Looking even further ahead, Henson was the first to admit that if his sprain had to happen, at least he preferred the timing of this one rather than later down the road in March.

“I think everyone would just because the ACC tournament is a big goal for us, but also the NCAA tournament is an even bigger goal,” Henson said. “I’m just going to try to get back as soon as possible and hopefully I’ll be fine.’

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