NORMAL — Keyshawn Evans' season with Illinois State's basketball team isn't over. However, when he will return to the Redbirds' lineup is unclear.
ISU coach Dan Muller said Evans is expected to be out one to three weeks after the junior guard underwent an MRI on his injured left knee Monday that didn't show any structural damage.
“It's a similar bone bruise (as earlier this season), but seems to be worse,” said Muller.
The 6-foot Evans, who is ISU's third-leading scorer with a 15.6 average and leading 3-point shooter (71 of 162) while averaging 3.4 assists per game, was hurt late in the first half Saturday against Evansville. He sat out the second half with ice on his knee and left the building on crutches.
Evans missed a Dec 31 game against Indiana State with a bone bruise on his left knee. Muller said Evans also suffered another bone bruise on the same knee during the preseason.
ISU faces Southern Illinois in a key Missouri Valley Conference game at 8 p.m. Thursday at Redbird Arena. The Redbirds (13-11 overall) are tied for third place in the league at 7-5, two games behind Loyola, while SIU (16-9, 8-4) is in second and a game out of the lead.
There are three weeks and six games left in the regular season until the MVC Tournament on March 1-4 in St. Louis.
With Evans apparently out against SIU, 6-3 redshirt sophomore Matt Hein figures to move into the starting lineup.
Hein, who averages 4.0 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists, has started nine games and opened the second half against Evansville. He scored a career-high 13 points in that game.
Evans' absence also figures to give Elijah Clarance a chance to move back into the rotation. The 6-4 freshman battled a stress fracture and severe blisters on his feet earlier in the season.
Clarance seemed to have a breakout game against SIU in Carbondale on Jan. 13. He set season highs with seven points and 23 minutes.
But after Muller cut the rotation down, Clarance didn't play against Missouri State last Tuesday. He also sat out the first half against Evansville before playing 11 minutes in the second half and contributing three points, one assist and one steal while not committing a turnover.
“If Keyshawn cannot play, Elijah is one of the guys who will probably get more minutes and reps (in practice) with that first group,” said Muller during Monday morning's MVC coaches teleconference.
ISU didn't practice Sunday or Monday.