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The Indiana Daily Student

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Indiana men’s basketball’s Kel’el Ware’s timetable to return is questionable with ankle injury

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MADISON, Wis. — Indiana men’s basketball sophomore center Kel’el Ware was sidelined with an ankle injury during the Hoosiers’ 91-79 loss to Wisconsin Friday night. 

After being absent from the bulk of team warmups, Ware emerged in street clothes and sported a walking boot on his right foot. Head coach Mike Woodson said Ware’s timetable to return is unknown. 

“Don’t know,” head coach Mike Woodson said postgame. “I really don’t. I have no idea how long he’ll be out.” 

Woodson said Ware landed on a player’s foot and turned his ankle in practice, though he didn’t specify the day. Junior forward Payton Sparks took Ware’s spot in the starting lineup against the Badgers, logging 29 minutes and scoring 7 points. 

RelatedINSTANT RECAP: Road woes continue as Indiana men’s basketball falls 91-79 to Wisconsin The Hoosiers haven’t won at the Kohl Center since 1998.

Friday night marked the longest stretch of play for Sparks in an Indiana uniform. He played 14 minutes against the University of Louisville and Kennesaw State University on Nov. 20 and Dec. 29, respectively. 

While Woodson stressed it wasn’t an excuse for the defeat, he said the Hoosiers missed Ware’s presence on the interior against the Badgers. 

 “Yeah, we missed the big fella tonight to plug the hole,” Woodson said. 

After transferring from the University of Oregon this past offseason, where he averaged 6.6 points as a freshman, Ware started to take the next step as a scorer and rim protector with the Hoosiers, as well as quelling concerns about his motor and consistent physicality.

Related‘Big fella’ Kel’el Ware dominates, posts career game as Indiana basketball’s go-to option Ware notched a career-high 28 points in Sunday’s win.

In 17 games with Indiana, the North Little Rock, AR native averages 14.2 points — second on the team behind sophomore forward Malik Reneau — and paces the team in rebounds and blocks with 9.4 and 1.6, respectively. 

Aside from Friday night, Ware has started every available game. The only exception: a game against Kennesaw State, when he was sidelined due to a bout with COVID. The Hoosiers have a week off before traveling to Champaign, Illinois, to take on No. 14 Illinois on Jan. 27, with Ware’s status for the contest still unknown. 

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Press (@MattPress23) and columnist Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season.

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