An MRI on the right ankle of injured University of New Mexico sophomore guard Cullen Neal revealed ligament damage, but not enough that would require surgery, Lobos coach Craig Neal said Wednesday morning.
The severe ankle sprain suffered at the 17:11 mark of the second half of last week’s loss to Boston College in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off could keep the Eldorado High graduate out between three and five weeks, the coach said.
Cullen Neal was leading the team in scoring (17.5 points per game through three games, though he averaged 24.5 per game in the two full games he played) when he went down and the Lobos struggled offensively without him in the lineup. The 6-foot-5 Cullen Neal had 11 assists and seven turnovers this season, but was a key to the UNM offense in that his playing on the ball opened up senior Hugh Greenwood to play off the ball, where he flourished as a scorer (he scored 11 points in the first eight minutes of the Boston College game while Cullen Neal was on the point).
The player who replaced Cullen Neal in the starting lineup in Puerto Rico, 6-6 junior guard Arthur Edwards, will be out 4-6 weeks after dislocating a finger on his right hand with the bone puncturing the skin. When the team returned from Puerto Rico early Tuesday morning, Edwards was reevaluated and it was revealed there is a small fracture at the end of the bone. His finger in a splint and he can not use the hand while he is out.
Walk-on Tim Jacobs, a 6-foot junior point guard who averaged 14.3 points and 3.6 assists per game last season at Cochise (Ariz.) College will now get about 20 minutes per game, Craig Neal said, and 6-5 freshman guard Xavier Adams will likely start on Sunday when the Lobos host USC.