Despite this being its first season in Conference USA, Louisiana Tech has been the favorite to win the league and get to the NCAA tournament.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs might have to do it without leading scorer Raheem Appleby.
The school announced Wednesday that Appleby would miss six-to-eight weeks with a sprained ankle. An MRI on Monday revealed ligament damage, and doctors will evaluate it further to see if season-ending surgery is needed.
Appleby missed Saturday's game against Florida International, and played just 12 minutes in the previous game against Florida Atlantic before suffering the injury. Louisiana Tech won both of those games, starting 2-0 in Conference USA play.
The loss is significant for the Bulldogs, as Appleby was averaging 16.1 points and 2.1 assists so far this season. The 6-foot-4 guard was a favorite for Player of the Year honors within the league. Given the timetable, it would put Appleby's return sometime around the end of the regular season and beginning of the conference tournament. With Appleby in tow, Louisiana Tech can make the tournament.
Without him, Alex Hamilton will take the reins of go-to scorer, while Jaron Johnson could also take on a bigger role in the backcourt. Johnson had 18 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes in the first game without Appleby.
The Bulldogs head to Tulane and title contender Southern Miss for the next two games.