ATLANTA — North Carolina forward John Henson was reduced to the role of cheerleader after injuring his left wrist Friday in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Henson, the ACC's defensive player of the year, played only 7 minutes, getting injured on a hard foul by Maryland's Ashton Pankey while driving to the basket early in the first half.
The Tar Heels player tumbled to the court, landing on his wrist. He got up, wincing in pain, and soon came out of the game.
While nothing appeared to be broken, Henson is expected to be re-evaluated and it's not known if he will be able to play when the fourth-ranked Tar Heels face North Carolina State in the semifinals Saturday.
"He had trouble catching and gripping the basketball," coach Roy Williams said. "That's his dominant hand, even though he's right-handed."
Henson flexed his hand repeatedly and went to the locker room for treatment with 13:51 left in the first half. He returned a short time later, his wrist heavily taped, and checked back into the game with 8:06 remaining.
Henson didn't last long. Less than a minute later, he left the court and watched the rest of the contest from the bench.
"As you know, John can be a little dramatic from time to time," point guard Kendall Marshall said, cracking a smile. "I didn't know how serious it was, but when he started squirming for a longer period of time, that concerned me."
The Tar Heels (28-4) got by just fine without Henson, romping to an 85-69 victory over Maryland. Five players scored in double figures and North Carolina was never seriously threatened.
Henson returned to the bench early in the second half, the tape removed from his wrist. He held an ice pack on it, trying to reduce the pain, and made sure to congratulate his teammates with his right hand only.
The level of competition figures to go up over the weekend, especially if North Carolina winds up in the championship game Sunday against No. 6 Duke. Henson came into the tournament averaging 14.2 points and leading the Tar Heels with 10.3 rebounds per game.
Freshman James Michael McAdoo got extended minutes with Henson on the bench. He came through with 14 points and a team-leading eight rebounds.
"Obviously, there's a difference because they're different type of players," Marshall said. "John is extremely long, and he has some things you can't teach. McAdoo brings a different thing to us. He's able to face up and slash to the basket and I think he showed that on several occasions.
"I don't say it's a big difference," Marshall added. "It's just they're two different players."
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