For the second time in a week, the South Carolina men's basketball team has lost a starter to injury. And both figure to be out for a while.
Junior forward Mike Holmes, the Gamecocks' third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, will be out indefinitely with an eye injury. The team said Holmes has a "closed-head injury with a facial fracture," and he was scheduled to have surgery today.
There is no timetable for Holmes' return, but coach Darrin Horn said, "it's not going be anytime soon."
Last week, senior forward Dominique Archie was diagnosed with a severe knee sprain, forcing him out of the lineup indefinitely. Archie was the team's leading scorer and rebounder when he got hurt.
"It just got a little bit tougher for us," Horn said after Monday's practice.
Horn said he was told Holmes hurt himself "just kind of horsing around at home." The team was off Saturday and Sunday, and Holmes had gone home to Bishopville.
The injury leaves the Gamecocks scrambling again to adjust their lineup. Horn was unsure who would replace the 6-foot-7 Holmes, though he was leaning toward going with a bigger player. In that case, the options are to start 6-9 junior Johndre Jefferson or 6-7 Austin Steed alongside starting center Sam Muldrow.
"My initial reaction is to go as big as we can, and we may have to turn up the heat even more, as crazy as it sounds, and just completely turn the game into an outright track meet and then press and get after it as much as we can," Horn said.
Either way, the frontcourt is depleted as the team enters a difficult nonconference stretch. After Wednesday's game against Western Kentucky - which has advanced at least one round in each of the past two NCAA tournaments - the Gamecocks visit Clemson, host Richmond (which received six votes in the most recent AP Top 25 poll) and visit Wofford, which won at Georgia last month.
The Gamecocks (5-1) were struggling a bit without Archie. They lost to Miami when Archie got hurt early in that game, then beat Jacksonville by four points Friday.
"The proof is going to be in going out and competing," Horn said. "Kinda like Friday night. We responded really well to Dominique's absence in practice and then went out in the game and seemed to lose focus on the things that make us good. That's the part that's going to be the test."