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Chase Jeter’s back injury not significant, Arizona hopes he can play Thursday at USC

Photo by Simon Asher

Arizona Wildcats center Chase Jeter suffered back spasms after taking a hard fall early in the first half in Saturday’s win against Oregon State, which caused him to miss the rest of the game, but UA coach Sean Miller said it is not a significant injury and hopes the big man will play in Thursday’s game at USC.

“I think Chase is gonna be okay. He’s certainly going to be okay, it’s just we’ll know more over the next couple days,” Miller said. “We don’t look at it as significant, meaning a disc or anything like that. He fell, his back went into spasms, which happens a lot of times on a big guy like that. But I think he was starting to feel even a little bit better late in the game, so we’re hopeful that we can get him back for next game, but we’re not there yet.”

Less than five minutes into Saturday’s game, Jeter was undercut by Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle while soaring for a rebound, causing him to land hard on the court.

Jeter stayed down for a few moments before walking to the locker room with Arizona trainer Justin Kokoskie where the UA big man remained for the rest of half. Jeter participated in warmups after halftime, but did not return to the game.

Jeter, who missed half his sophomore season at Duke due to a back injury, also appeared to grab his left arm after crashing to the court, but Miller said it is only a back injury.

Despite missing Jeter and Emmanuel Akot, who left the team earlier in the week, the Wildcats still managed to outrebound Oregon State 41-29 and finish with a 28-8 edge in second-chance points in the 82-71 win.

“We had 21 second shots playing without Chase. I think that’s all you need to know about the effort level we played with,” Miller said. “We played an inspired two hours of basketball. We weren’t perfect, but there’s nobody that can ever say that we didn’t give everything that we had.”

Ryan Luther had 16 points and a season-high 11 rebounds in an increased role, while Dylan Smith, who started at the 4 for the first time this season, had 13 points and six rebounds. Ira Lee had two points and three rebounds in 13 minutes, battling through foul trouble.

“We weren’t sure if he was gonna return or whatever, but really nothing changed,” Luther said of Jeter. “I knew I was gonna play a little bit more at the 5, and I think between me, Ira, and Dylan playing the 4 or 5, we kind of collectively filled that void.”

If Jeter has to miss any time, it will be a significant loss for the Wildcats, who improved to 5-1 in Pac-12 play. The redshirt junior has started all 19 games this season and was averaging 13.3 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds entering Saturday’s contest.

“Obviously we want Chase out there, but he didn’t come back in, so we were just trying to hold it down for him,” Luther said. “I’m sure he’ll be fine.”