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UConn's Bouknight out indefinitely following left elbow surgery

UConn will be without leading scorer James Bouknight for an indefinite period after the sophomore underwent surgery on his left elbow on Tuesday.

There's no timetable for his return, according to UConn.

Bouknight suffered the injury while diving for a loose ball late in the first half of a Big East road game at Marquette on Jan. 5. Marquette's Koby McEwen landed on Bouknight's extended left arm.

He returned to play in the second half but was ineffective.

Wearing a brace on his hyperextended elbow, Bouknight watched from the sidelines as the 25th-ranked Huskies won at Butler Saturday and at DePaul on Monday to go 3-0 on their road trip.

Now they'll have to survive for a longer period without Bouknight, who averages 20.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and is a contender for Big East player of the year honors.

So far, they've relied on their defense, toughness and depth to make up for Bouknight's absence.

"It will be felt until he returns," coach Dan Hurley said Monday about Bouknight's absence after beating DePaul. "That doesn't mean you don't win another way. We're going to have to rely on our defense and our rebounding."

Hurley added that night if Bouknight misses time, "it won't be a lot of time."

More pressure will be put on veterans Tyler Polley, Isaiah Whaley, Tyrese Martin and R.J. Cole, who stepped up during the road trip.

"We've been handling it pretty well," said Cole on Monday. "With Bouk missing, that's a lot of scoring for us and good defense from him. But we have a pretty deep team. That's the biggest thing about us. Any given night someone else can step up and that's what we've been doing. ... And that's what we want to continue to do until we figure out when he comes back.

"That speaks to our togetherness and our accountability to each other. When one man goes down, the next man steps up."

UConn (7-1 4-1) is off until hosting St. John's on Monday at Gampel Pavilion.

The break between games will give the Huskies time to make some adjustments. Junior Brendan Adams started in place of Bouknight the last two games.

"Losing James after game one of the trip shortened the roster and put more pressure on other people," Hurley said on Monday. "(The break) will give us a couple of days to prepare for how we need to play if he's going to miss more time. We didn't have a whole lot of time to organize ourselves how we wanted to play offensively with James out because it happened quickly."

After playing the last three games against teams with losing Big East records, UConn will face stiffer competition next week, hosting Xavier (10-2, 3-2) Jan. 20 and visiting Creighton (10-2, 6-1) Jan. 23.

UConn's athletic training and medical staff will closely monitor Bouknight's progress and recovery.

g.keefe@theday.com

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