Any chance Ole Miss hoops had of making the NCAA Tourney this year just took a serious blow. Sebastian Saiz, who's averaging just under a double-double as the team's only reliable guy in the front court, is out for an indefinite period of time as he recovers from Tuesday morning surgery to repair a torn retina, according to The Clarion Ledger. Ben Garrett of Scout.com reports the absence will be at least two weeks minimum.
The injury actually goes back to the brutal blow to the face Saiz suffered against Memphis a full month ago. He was back in the lineup after missing just one game after that, but apparently woke up the morning of the LSU game and, according to Garrett, "sensed his vision was off."
You can make the argument that Saiz is the most irreplaceable guy on this Ole Miss team -- more so than Stefan Moody and his 12 straight games of 20-plus points. That's because Saiz is the only reliable back-to-the-basket big man that Andy Kennedy has right now. He's carried the load down low, averaging 12.3 points and 9.8 boards (second highest rebound average in the SEC) while playing the second-most minutes on the team.
Saiz's injury leaves Tomasz Gielo, Anthony Perez and Marcanvis Hymon as the only forwards with more than 15 minutes of total playing time this season. Gielo and Perez have both been busts at the four-spot, averaging just 13.8 points and 6.4 boards combined. Hymon is mainly a defensive presence who has yet to play more than 13 minutes or score more than six points in a SEC contest. Terry Brutus, who's missed most of the season with an injury, has played a whopping 11 minutes since making his debut a month ago against Troy. Expect burly but short (6'3) guard Martavious Newby to see more time in the front court.
A two-week minimum means Saiz will miss Tuesday night's home game against No. 24 South Carolina, Saturday's trip to Starkville, a home game against Auburn next Wednesday and a random non-con trip to K-State next Saturday. The Rebs sit at 12-5 overall, 2-3 in conference and 76th in the RPI, meaning they were already fighting just to be on the bubble.