Virginia senior center Assane Sene will miss approximately six weeks after undergoing surgery on his fractured right ankle Friday, according to a team-issue news release. Sene injured the ankle late in the first half of the Cavaliers’ 70-38 win at Georgia Tech on Thursday.

Sene, who had started every game at center this season for Virginia (15-2, 2-1 ACC), was averaging 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. He also leads the team with 15 blocks. Should Sene be able to return in six weeks, he could play in two more regular season games, as well as the ACC tournament and any other postseason play. 

“Assane is a senior and an integral part of our team,” Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said in the release. “In all my years of coaching, he is one of the most team-first players I’ve been around. I know he’ll do whatever he can from a rehabilitation standpoint to try and return to action before the end of the season.”

With Sene out for the near future, expect sophomore forward Akil Mitchell and freshman forward Darion Atkins to assume larger roles. Mitchell, who is the likely candidate to start in Sene’s place, has played in all 17 games and is averaging 3.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game. 

Atkins has played in 12 games, averaging 3.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 9.3 minutes per game. While Atkins is not as familiar as Mitchell with Bennett’s defensive system, he does rank second on the team with nine blocks.

Sene’s absence may not necessarily be missed on the offensive end or in terms of rebounding. But it will be a challenge for the Cavaliers to replace his experience in Bennett’s system and his defensive instincts. Also, Sene’s injury creates an interior depth issue, as Virginia is down to three scholarship forwards (Mitchell, Atkins and fifth-year senior Mike Scott).

The Cavaliers host Virginia Tech (11-7, 0-4) on Sunday, providing Virginia its first opportunity to gauge exactly how much Sene will be missed.