Missouri freshman forward Mitchell Smith will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Wednesday during the Tigers’ loss against LSU.
During the Tigers’ conference opener at Mizzou Arena, Smith was backpedaling on defense in the closing seconds of the first half when he tumbled to the floor. Third-year MU coach Kim Anderson said an official told him he thought Smith might have stepped on another player’s foot before he went down.
Smith, a 6-foot-10 native of Van Buren, Ark., didn’t return to the bench during the second half. He underwent an MRI on Thursday morning and will have surgery soon, according to a release from Mizzou Athletics.
“It’s definitely hard to hear that your season will be cut short, but the support I’ve received from Coach Anderson, our trainer Pat Beckmann, the team doctors and my teammates has been really comforting,” Smith said in the release. “All of my effort this season will now go towards cheering on my teammates and focusing on getting healthy.”
Smith had appeared in 11 of 13 games, including the last nine, and averaged 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 7 1/2 minutes per game.
“Mitchell has been an absolutely outstanding representative of the Mizzou basketball program this season,” Anderson said. “He has always brought a tireless work ethic and incredible willingness to learn on a daily basis, and we have no doubt that will continue as he works to recover from this setback. We will support Mitchell the whole way, and I hope all Mizzou fans do the same for a really special member of our Mizzou family.”
Smith’s injury is a blow to Mizzou’s already hobbled frontcourt depth.
Freshman small forward Willie Jackson transferred from the program last week, while senior forward Russ Woods is battling back spasms and freshman forward Reed Nikko continues to work back from a high left ankle sprain.