Midway through the first half, things looked dire for the Arizona Wildcats.
Aside from falling behind by 10 points to the seventh-seeded Saint Mary’s Gaels, Wildcats starting guard Rawle Alkins had to exit the game after injuring his right index finger.
But like they have done several times this season, the Wildcats fought through a less-than-ideal situation.
“We hung in there,” head coach Sean Miller said. “It was ... like a microcosm of our entire season.”
With a heavily bandaged finger, Alkins returned with three minutes left in the first half and helped guide the Wildcats to a 69-60 comeback victory.
“I like to fight through adversity and I like to think of myself as a warrior and a savage,” Alkins said after the game, wearing a giant ice pack on his hand. “I just wanted to win, that was my big thing.”
Alkins had a team-high +13 plus-minus, making several key plays down the stretch, helping Arizona advance to its fourth Sweet 16 appearance in five years.
There was no chance his finger injury was going to sideline him.
“Do whatever it takes to get me back on the court," Alkins told UA trainer Justin Kokoskie while his finger was getting examined.
And it wasn’t a minor injury. Miller announced after the game that Alkins’ finger was dislocated.
“Rawle Alkins dislocated his finger on the shooting hand,” Miller said. “When you do that as a freshman and you're in the NCAA Tournament, and you leave the game, No. 1, it's not easy to come back into the game, but to come back in the game and play well, says a lot about Rawle.”
Alkins, who mentioned he has never had a serious injury before, said his pain level is an 8.5 on a scale from one to 10.
“My hand was swollen and my right hand was like a left hand," Alkins said.
Alkins also said that there is a fracture in his finger along with the dislocation, though you would probably have to cut it off to stop him from playing — the freshman has not missed a game all season.
“My finger’s doing well. It’s doing better than I thought,” Alkins said. “I like to look at myself as a warrior and I fight through these things.”
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire