Ayoka Lee vs Texas, Jan. 2020

Kansas State’s Ayoka Lee goes up for a shot during Sunday’s game against Texas at Bramlage Coliseum in January. Lee exited Thursday night’s game with an apparent ankle injury.

Kansas State’s season took a hit four minutes into Thursday night’s game against No. 11 Kentucky. How big of a hit remains to be seen.

Star center Ayoka Lee turned her left ankle coming down from a shot-block attempt in the first quarter. Lee crumpled as soon as she hit the ground.

K-State’s star center had to be helped off the floor so she didn’t put weight on the ankle. After getting it taped on the bench, Lee tested it out, walking around behind the basket and even jogging at one point.

Through it all, Lee could be seen shaking her head. When she came out of the locker room, she was on crutches with an ice pack wrapped around her ankle.

“I don’t (know her status),” K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said after the game. “She’s on crutches.”

Lee was replaced by centers Taylor Lauterbach and Ashley Ray for the remainder of the game. The pair combined to score five points and grab seven rebounds.

Lee unquestionably is K-State’s most important player from a production standpoint. A preseason All-Big 12 first-team selection, Lee averaged 15.7 points and 11.4 rebounds per game as a freshman. Her efforts were enough to be named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year last season.

Now, the Wildcats’ potentially will have to play without her during the most condensed part of their season.

K-State next plays Saturday at Central Arkansas. The game is the second of a six-games-inside-two-week jaunt on Kansas State’s schedule.

K-State also is dealing with injury issues in its guard corps. Junior guard Savannah Simmons has yet to play this season, as she is battling a lingering calf injury.

Then on Wednesday, freshman guard Jada Moore had a finger on her right hand stepped on during practice. The impact broke the finger and forced Moore into a cast. She did not dress for Thursday night’s game.

With the preseason opt-out of forward Emma Chapman, it is possible that K-State could have four of the 14 players on its roster unavailable Saturday and beyond.

“We haven’t been the luckiest. ... We’ve had a few (injuries),” Mittie said. “We’ll see. I think (Lee) is able to put a little pressure on it, but obviously not able to go.”

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