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February 25, 2010

Safford has torn ACL

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Missouri coach Mike Anderson just said on The Program on Kansas City's 810WHB that Justin Safford has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Anderson said that Safford would be re-evaluated in about a week, but that he would need to have surgery at some point.

Safford is Missouri's fourth-leading scorer at 8.6 points per game and third-leading rebounder with 4.1 at this point. He had scored eight points when he went down awkwardly after an alley-oop layup in the first half against Colorado.

The injury certainly impacts Missouri's depth in an already thin frontcourt. Safford has played in all 28 games, averaging 20 minutes per night. He has started 23 contests. Fellow forward Keith Ramsey, who averages 25.4 minutes-second on the team-will likely be asked to take on even more court time. In his last three games, Ramsey has averaged 10.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

"Keith, he's getting better with every game," J.T. Tiller said. "He's just really stepping his game up. He's fixing plays as usual, but doing so in a more intense fashion. It's looking really good."

"I'm a senior," Ramsey said. "I need to start playing harder. It's getting down to the end of the season my senior year, so I'm gonna go ahead and start leaving it all out there."

The onus will not fall solely on Ramsey. In fact, it probably will not even fall mostly on him. Laurence Bowers is averaging 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game. Steve Moore has seen increased time in the conference season, but is still averaging just 9.5 minutes per game. Freshmen Tyler Stone and John Underwood have seen their first Big 12 action in Missouri's last two games.

"The whole team does (have to pick it up). He's a big part of our team," Ramsey said. "Steve, he'll have to give more minutes. Even some of those freshmen, like Tyler and John, they've got to start playing big too."

At this point, Safford has not been ruled out for the season. His status will be reassessed at some time next week. However, Missouri seems clear to be without his services on Saturday in Manhattan when Missouri faces sixth-ranked Kansas State in a game that could determine second place in the Big 12. The Wildcats are one of the most physical teams in the nation and are among the best rebounding teams in the Big 12.

"They're very physical, they're aggressive, they attack the glass, which is not one of our strengths," Anderson said. "It's something we're going to have to get better at if we're going to give ourselves a chance."

It just got a little harder without Safford in the mix.

PowerMizzou.com will keep Tiger fans updated as this story develops and we know more about Safford's status for the rest of the season.


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