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UMass guard Jesse Morgan out for season with torn ACL

Massachusetts' Jesse Morgan yells while lying in the court after injuring his knee during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Saint Louis, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in St. Louis. Morgan left the game and Saint Louis went on to win 70-62. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Massachusetts' Jesse Morgan yells while lying in the court after injuring his knee during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Saint Louis, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in St. Louis. Morgan left the game and Saint Louis went on to win 70-62. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

AMHERST — University of Massachusetts junior guard Jesse Morgan has a torn right anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the rest of the season.

Morgan’s knee buckled driving to the basket early in the second half of Thursday’s loss to Saint Louis. The injury was originally diagnosed as a sprain, which is technically accurate. An ACL tear is a severe sprain.

“I feel bad for Jesse obviously,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “He’s worked really hard to be one of our team leaders and one of our better players. To have an injury like that cost him the rest of his junior year is tough for him. It’s tough for our team to a certain extent. He was our second leading scorer and maybe our best perimeter defender. We have some other guys that are ready to step up and play for Jesse.”

Morgan was second on the team in scoring (13.4 points per game) and minutes (28.7 per game). He started 11 games this season and was the team’s emergency point guard.

Kellogg said Morgan is expected to have surgery next month and miss six months. He’s not eligible for a medical redshirt.

“The one thing I know about him is that he’s going to work his tail off to get that knee strong and come back even better,” Kellogg said.

Morgan missed Sunday’s win over Fordham leaving UMass with just three healthy guards on the roster. Senior Freddie Riley started in Morgan’s place and will likely continue to do so. He had 11 points, including two big late 3-pointers. Freshman Trey Davis, who had 12 points and four assists, will continue to see added minutes as well.

The Minutemen host Duquesne at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Morgan’s injury is the latest in a rash of recent bad luck the Minutemen have had with guards. Highly regarded Jordan Laguerre, who would have been a redshirt freshman this season, elected to stop playing basketball and left school. Senior Javorn Farrell is out with an ankle injury and is expected to take a medical redshirt this season.

Junior point guard Chaz Williams said the team wants to play well for Morgan.

“We want to do it for Jesse,” Williams said. “With Jesse missing, we’re missing a big piece. Now it’s time to step up big time. It’s what he would have wanted to do.”

With Morgan out, Williams will play shooting guard when he and Davis are in the game together. He said it’s an adjustment.

“When I’m at the two, I still look to make the pass first. But I’m in a different space on the floor,” Williams said. “I have the opportunity to score. I’ll just take what the defense is giving me and go with the flow.”

ROE HONORED BY ATLANTIC 10
— The Atlantic 10 announced Tuesday the first class of its Men’s Basketball Legends, a honor society of sorts that the league unveiled this season. Each of the 16 schools had one honoree.

Lou Roe, a first-team All-American in 1995 and a three-time first-team all-conference honoree for the Minuteman, is UMass’ representative. Roe, who is a staff assistant for Kellogg, will be honored during a brunch at the Barclays Center’s 40/40 Club, beginning at 11 a.m. prior to the A-10 men’s semifinal games on March 16 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Other notable honorees include Cedric Maxwell (Charlotte), Chuck Cooper (Duquesne), who was the first African-American player in the NBA, Red Auerbach (George Washington) and John Chaney (Temple).

The women’s class will be announced Wednesday.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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