Villanova guard Phil Booth (5) in action during an NCAA college basketball game against Providence, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
The nation’s top-ranked team has lost an important piece.
Villanova announced Wednesday that junior guard Phil Booth is out indefinitely after tests revealed he has a fractured bone in his shooting hand. Booth suffered the injury during the second half of Villanova’s 89-69 victory over Providence on Tuesday night.
“All of us are disappointed for Phil,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “He is one of our captains and the respect for him among his teammates is off the charts. Phil is as mentally tough a player as we have had in our program. We know he’ll come back better and stronger from this.”
The loss of Booth is a blow to a Villanova team that is off to a 19-1 start and appears on pace to win the Big East for a fifth consecutive year. Booth is averaging 11.6 points per game, shooting 43 percent from behind the arc and posting a 2.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
This is the third player this season that Villanova has lost to a fractured hand. Guard Collin Gillespie broke his hand in early December and returned last week against Georgetown. Forward Jermaine Samuels is still out after breaking his hand in late December.
It will be Gillespie whose role will increase the most in Booth’s absence. The 6-foot-3 freshman has played sparingly since returning from his injury, but he showed promise as an outside shooter and distributor in non-conference play.
Booth scored 20 points in Villanova’s national title game upset of North Carolina two years ago, but he missed all but three games last season with a knee injury. Villanova can only hope that they’ll have him back in time for the postseason this year.
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Jeff Eisenberg is a college basketball writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter!