Anfernee McLemore had one of his best games in Auburn’s win against Kentucky on Wednesday night, but a few days later his season came to an end.
The sophomore suffered a dislocated left ankle, fractured tibia and torn ligaments during the Tigers’ 84-75 loss at South Carolina on Saturday.
The 6-foot-7 forward was taken to a nearby hospital in Columbia, then tweeted out a cheerful update during the second half.
Thank you Auburn Family for all the love and support! Doctors said I dislocated my ankle, fractured my tibia, and will need surgery for some torn ligaments. Not to worry, I’ll be back in 4-6 months. War Eagle everybody 🦅
— Anfernee McLemore (@akmclemore) February 17, 2018
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, who often has called McLemore a “shot-blocking, 3-point shooting 5 man that is a nightmare to match up with,” said McLemore is expected to undergo surgery on Sunday. His projected recovery time is from four to six months.
The injury left Colonial Life Arena silent, and Pearl said he wasn’t thinking about the rest of the game or even the rest of the season at that moment. Pearl was only focused on keeping McLemore calm.
“I could see his ankle completely dislocated,” Pearl said. “I just got to go out there and hold his hand. I got to go out there and calm him down. I got to go out there and not have him sit up and look at it. You’ve got a potential for a shock there. I wanted him to see my face, and he was looking me right in the eyes. We were talking. It was really classy of [South Carolina] coach [Frank] Martin to come over …”
Frank Booker scored 19 points against Auburn and was one of the South Carolina players who showed compassion after the gruesome scene unfolded.
“No. 1, our prayers go out to McLemore and his family and his team,” Booker said. “I was hanging on the rim and looked down and it was one of those freakish things where the ankle was a little out of place. But as you saw, he got on the stretcher, he said he was all right. But those things are not fun to watch at all, even if it’s the other team. Our prayers go out to him and his family. He played really hard, and hopefully he’ll come back strong.”
Martin also offered his support and best wishes to McLemore after the game.
“First of all, to McLemore, it’s unfortunate,” Martin said. “Unbelievable kid. I don’t know him very well, but numerous people I know that know him well, the coaching staff — unbelievable young man. God bless him, and he will be OK. It’s real frustrating as a coach when you see somebody go through something like that.”
Of course, the most heartfelt messages came from McLemore’s teammates. Several took to Twitter to voice praise about the underclassman’s work ethic and dedication. McLemore was averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and had blocked 71 shots before the loss at South Carolina.
“What I seen, I just, I don’t know what to say. I hurt for him,” junior forward Desean Murray said. “I was just thinking about him and his pain and then, everything he does for us. And then, I mean, I was just worried about him. I just looked at what happened and turned away. I don’t know, it’s just sad. It’s sad. He’ll be OK, but it’s just sad.”