March 21 (UPI) -- Kentucky will face Abilene Christian without P.J. Washington when the Wildcats tip off in the first round of the 2019 NCAA tournament Thursday in Jacksonville.
The sophomore forward is averaging 14.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 blocks per game, while shooting 41 percent from 3-point range this season. Washington is dealing with a sprained foot.
Kentucky coach John Calipari confirmed Washington's absence Thursday on Twitter.
"The specialists confirmed our original diagnosis that P.J. Washington has a sprained foot and there is no fracture," Calipari tweeted. "Once we determined that P.J. was not going to play today, they put him in a hard cast for precautionary reasons. He is out for today's game."
Calipari told reporters Wednesday that he expected Washington to play in the first-round bout.
"He wants to play," Calipari said. "Well you know me. Let's go get one more level with this. We sent him to a specialist to make sure he can't harm himself. But we expect him to play."
No. 2 Kentucky and No. 15 Abilene Christian face off at 7:10 p.m. Thursday at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Wildcats could still get by the lower seed without their leading scorer and rebounder, but will likely need Washington for a deep run in the tournament. He sustained the injury during Kentucky's loss to Tennessee in the SEC tournament Saturday in Nashville.
Washington did not participate in Wednesday's public practice session or team interviews. Kentucky would face Wofford or Seton Hall if the squad beats Abilene Christian Thursday. That second-round matchup takes place Saturday in Jacksonville.