The Alabama men’s basketball team welcomed an injured player back faster than expected.
Guard Nimari Burnett, who had been out since December 13 with a wrist injury, returned to the court in the Crimson Tide’s 85-64 win over Missouri on Saturday in Columbia. He checked in at 13:17 in the first half and played five minutes in Alabama’s eighth straight win. Burnett didn’t score and went 0-2 from the field, but he pulled down two rebounds.
Ahead of the game, Oats told reporters Friday that the Texas Tech transfer was close to returning to action, pointing to next week as a likely return date. But before the game on Saturday UA tweeted a video of Burnett’s name tag being affixed above his locker at the Mizzou Arena and his jersey draped over his chair, signaling a comeback soon.
“I didn’t expect him to be able to play, but he trained on Thursday and looked decent,” Oats said after the game. “We took the X-ray, sent him to the surgeon, got feedback. Shooting I think we made a decision – I think he practiced again on Friday to see how he would feel and then we did the shooting just to make sure everything was still good, and made a decision that he can play.
“I didn’t expect him to be great after being out for so long but I wanted to buy him a few minutes. We have him a little. He shouldn’t be back in at least another week so I think any minute we can get him now – he’s going to play hard. He will be great in defence. … This was a decent game to get him going. We got out a little in the transition. But I expect he’ll come back pretty quickly.
“He’s a hard-playing kid who will be great for us on defense. He makes open shots. He’ll be another guy where if Sears or Brandon are struggling he can put open shots in much the same way Rylan (Griffen) did for us tonight.
After missing the entire 2021-22 season due to an off-season knee injury. Burnett started in the first nine games that year and averaged 7.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest. In his absence, freshman guard Jaden Bradley has joined the lineup in every game since and while Bradley will continue to see minutes, Burnett should also see an increase in usage.
Alabama will return home at 8pm CT on Wednesday, January 25 to take on Mississippi State.
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