At a time when Cameron Ridley was playing the best basketball of his career, the Texas center suffered an ill-timed setback.
Texas announced Monday that Ridley fractured his left foot in practice the previous day. He will undergo surgery on Tuesday and be out indefinitely.
The extended absence of Ridley is a huge blow to a Texas team that has given its fans reason to be excited in recent weeks. The Longhorns (8-3) have reeled off six straight victories entering Tuesday's matchup with UConn, a streak that includes an upset of preseason No. 1 North Carolina and a road win at Stanford.
Extending that success without Ridley won't be easy considering the contributions the 6-foot-9 senior has made so far this season. Ridley is averaging 12.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.4 blocks, all career highs. He came one blocked shot shy of tallying the second triple-double ever at Texas in a Dec. 15 victory over Appalachian State.
The absence of Ridley could cause Shaka Smart to play smaller and quicker more frequently with Connor Lammert as the lone true big man on the floor. Backup big men Prince Ibeh and Shaquille Cleare will also undoubtedly receive extended playing time, but Ibeh's production has never matched his talent and Cleare is at this point better suited to a backup role.
While Texas will not have the luxury of easing a newcomer into its lineup during a soft portion of its schedule, the Longhorns can at least take solace that most of their toughest Big 12 games don't arrive for a few more weeks. Of their first five conference games, only one is against one of the Big 12's five teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25.
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