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Villanova head coach Jay Wright was seen consoling his injured star Justin Moore shortly before the start of the Wildcats’ Final Four game against the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday.
The junior shooting guard tore his Achilles tendon in the final seconds of the team’s Southern Region championship game against the Houston Cougars on March 26. The injury cost Moore the chance to play in the semi-finals of the tournament.
Moore, who averaged 13.6 points per game for the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament, was sorely missed against Kansas, which took an 11-point halftime lead and never looked back. ultimately winning 81-65.
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Prior to the game, Moore spoke about the support he received from his team, his family, Villanova fans and even the NBA community.
“It was great for me personally. I needed people by my side. I felt hurt and depressed,” Moore said. “They say they love me and support me and give me words of encouragement, that really helped me.”
Wright was at Moore’s side to comfort his player on Saturday when the starting lineups were announced.
Moore was injured after appearing to slip while dribbling against a defender with less than 40 seconds left in the game against Houston.
Moore limped off the field with the help of teammates, who consoled him after his exit. The guard was later seen with crutches.
“It was really nerve-wracking and tough for me. We were winning that game and playing great basketball as a team and getting into the Final Four,” Moore said. “People saw me crying and all that. It was full of emotions. I had to sit down and take it all in.”
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“My family was there and my teammates were there to help me,” he added. “If I didn’t have them by my side, I don’t know where I would be right now.”
Moore said another person who reached out was NBA star Kevin Durant, who tore his right Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals while playing for the Golden State Warriors.
“He called me right away. He contacted me through FaceTime,” Moore said. “I wasn’t expecting this. I was still a bit away from medicine. That, right there, kind of took me out of there. It was a great feeling.
“He was telling me my career isn’t over. It’s only just begun,” Moore added. “An injury like this, a torn Achilles, you can get over that. In previous years, people thought your career was over, but he was letting me know that my career wasn’t over. He said I I could always hit him looking for advice.”
Moore has been a productive player for Villanova this season, averaging 34.6 minutes, 4.8 rebounds, 1 steal and 14.8 points per game.
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Saturday’s loss deprived Villanova of another national championship appearance. The Wildcats have two championships — 2016 and 2018 — in Wright’s 22 seasons.
Kansas will face North Carolina in Monday’s national title game.