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Derek Willis and Isaiah Briscoe return from injury

Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis return as UK is hitting a tough stretch of games.

CMH Photography

The Kentucky Wildcats got a pair of injury scares last week, but neither appears to have been serious.

The first came with Isaiah Briscoe, who was dealing with a back/hip injury that led to him getting an MRI, only to find out it was nothing more than a bruised butt. Though it kept him sidelined for UK’s wins over Cleveland State and UT-Martin, Briscoe warmed up prior to facing Arizona State on Monday before getting back into the starting lineup.

As for Derek Willis, the senior forward suffered a sprained right thumb in Friday's 111-76 win over UT-Martin. He too warmed up prior to UK’s Monday matchup with the Sun Devils and shroud play.

Hand/finger sprains can be really tricky in basketball, but it looks like Willis’ was minor enough that he’s already back. He and Willis both practiced this weekend in the Bahamas and looked fine. He played in just eight minutes while finishing with two points on 1-of-3 shooting with one block and one board vs UT-Martin.

Having both of them vs Arizona State is good, but they’ll be needed more during Saturday’s matchup with No. 11 UCLA, especially Briscoe and his defense. UK has more than enough offense to get by without Briscoe and Willis, as evidenced by their scoring barrage over the past week.

But the defense that Briscoe brings will be critical to slowing down the Bruins, who are averaging 96.9 points per game, which ranks third nationally. UCLA is also leading the nation in assets per game (24.1).