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Wildcats’ Cauley-Stein will miss tonight’s NCAA title game

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein will miss tonight’s national title game against Connecticut because of a lingering ankle injury, while forward Alex Poythress plans to play after tweaking his knee during the Wildcats’ semifinal celebration.

Cauley-Stein called it “heartbreaking” that he would have to watch the championship game from the bench. He hurt his right ankle in his NCAA tournament opener against Kansas State, played with pain in a victory over Wichita State and then aggravated the injury against Louisville.

The 7-foot sophomore averaged only seven points and 6.2 rebounds this season, but his ability to alter and block shots made him invaluable on defense. His height would have come in handy against UConn’s playmaking guards, who love to slash to the basket.

He did not play at all in a regional final victory over Michigan, and was forced to be a cheerleader for a dramatic 74-73 victory over the Badgers on Saturday night.

Even after he discarded the walking boot that doctors ordered him to wear earlier in the week, the ankle has never felt good enough to get on the floor.

“That’s the only thing I can really do is encourage the team to stay positive,” Cauley-Stein said. “I still serve a purpose of uplifting people and staying in people’s ear and cheering and stuff like that.”

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