KNOXVILLE — Tennessee basketball's freshman class is dealing with another significant injury.
Starting forward John Fulkerson will miss a minimum of six weeks after dislocating his elbow in Thursday's win against Lipscomb, coach Rick Barnes said Saturday before the Volunteers departed for Nashville and today's game against Gonzaga.
It's a blow for both Fulkerson, who was making an impact and showing glimpses of a promising future, and for Tennessee, which often feeds off the rookie's energy.
"We've got a group of guys that I think can play and we're going to keep working and figure out what we can do," Barnes said. "We've had injuries all year we've had to deal with, and we're working through it. We'll do the same here."
Multiple players indicated it was tough to stomach watching Fulkerson land awkwardly after trying to take a charge midway through the first half against the Bisons.
Graduate transfer Lew Evans, who Barnes said likely will start in Fulkerson's place, said after the game he wanted to throw up after watching the gruesome injury.
"What happened to him, it's sad," said sophomore forward Kyle Alexander, whose role will grow in Fulkerson's absence. "You hate to see that happen to anybody, but that definitely means that some of us have to step up and provide some more effective minutes. It's going to give a lot of us more opportunities to show what we can do.
"Everybody has to be ready to play."
Fulkerson started the past six games after recording a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds with two steals and five blocked shots in Tennessee's second game in the Maui Invitational last month.
He scored eight points, grabbed eight rebounds and recorded two steals and two blocks the following day against Chaminade and contributed 12 points and eight rebounds in the rout of Georgia Tech.
At North Carolina Fulkerson made all four of his shots to finish with eight points.
In 10 games this season Fulkerson is averaging 16 minutes, 4.7 points on nearly 57 percent shooting and 4.6 rebounds per game with a team-leading 11 steals, but his impact often goes beyond the box score with the hustle and effort plays he makes to energize his team.
"Seeing John go down really inspired me to come out there and do what he does, because John is just a presence when it comes to rebounding the basketball, running the floor and playing his heart out," freshman forward Grant Williams said after scoring 30 points Thursday.
"John is a great guy in general. He just inspires me. He's my roommate, so we talk all the time, and seeing him go down with an injury like that and witnessing it from the bench, it was really rough to look at."
Admiral Schofield, who missed the Lipscomb game due to an ankle injury, was "limpy" in Saturday's practice and "hopefully" will be able to play against Gonzaga, Barnes said.
Freshman point guard Jordan Bone, who has missed the past seven games due to a stress fracture in his foot, still doesn't have a target date for his return.
"We're hoping maybe next week he can get on the floor and start doing some things, but we won't rush him back," Barnes said. "We won't do that, either. He's made progress, and based on what they told me, they're hoping next week they might let him do a little bit actually starting Monday. It's going to be a slow process to get him back."
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