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Morgan Tuck stretches out before making her return to the lineup as #1 UConn plays #2 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC, Tuesday evening. Photo by JOHN WOIKE | woike@courant.com hc-uconn-women-duke-1218 (John Woike / Hartford Courant / December 17, 2013)

HARTFORD — When Geno Auriemma said Wednesday he was concerned that the season was close "to getting away" from sophomore Morgan Tuck, he was referring to a decision that Tuck and the staff might soon have to make about her future.

Tuck missed her fourth consecutive game against Memphis with a bone bruise of the right knee. She missed eight games early this season after arthroscopic surgery to her left knee, which frequently bothered her as a freshman.

As a result, Tuck has played in only eight of UConn's first 20 games. And at the moment, according to a UConn spokesman, she still would qualify to receive a medical redshirt for the season because she's played in fewer than 30 percent of UConn's 31 regular season games.

That statistic would evaporate soon should Tuck decide to keep playing this season.

The injury is extremely problematic. Auriemma said she has a small crater on her knee cap. There really is no way for the training staff to predict how quickly she might respond to treatment. And even then, Tuck would have to work herself back into game shape.

"Morgan is very frustrated," Auriemma said.

Tuck's health is critical to the future of the program. When Stefanie Dolson graduates, the Huskies will be down a post player. Right now, only four big guards are in the freshman Class of 2014, although 6-4 A'ja Wilson of South Carolina, the No. 1-rated player in the high school senior class, has yet to decide among UConn, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Should Wilson pass on UConn, the Huskies' front line next season would feature Breanna Stewart, Kiah Stokes and Tuck.

If Tuck were to decide to opt for a redshirt, she could play a fifth season in 2016-17 instead of leaving the program with Stewart and Moriah Jefferson in 2016.

Heather Buck accepted a medical redshirt after dealing with mononucleosis as a freshman and played last year as a fifth-year student.

New Day, New Record

Jefferson's breakthrough sophomore season seems to take on new dimensions every day. She went into Wednesday's game without a turnover in her previous two (70 minutes) at Baylor and Rutgers. And then against Memphis, she set a career single-season mark with nine steals in 32 minutes. Only Cathy Bochain (1980) and Jennifer Rizzotti (1996) have had more in a game (10).

"Over the last month, Moriah has really started to get involved defensively; more aggressive, take more chances, try to do more things," Auriemma said. "Usually when you are that athletic, and you do that, good things happen more times than they don't.

"She is getting her hands on a lot of passes. She is getting her hands on loose balls. She was a little bit ahead of herself today offensively. But she has become, defensively, where it all starts for us. She is putting a lot of pressure on the ball. She is making it tough for people to go where they want to go and do what they want to do."

Jefferson has a legitimate chance to finish this season with at least 100 rebounds, 100 steals, 200 assists and 400 points.

After 20 games, she had 203 points, 98 assists, 58 steals and 56 rebounds. That accomplishment would again put her in company with Rizzotti, the former All-American, who as a senior in 1995-96 had 418 points, 112 steals, 222 assists and 126 rebounds.

Banks Limited

Junior guard Brianna Banks was able to play just three minutes against Memphis because of a slight ankle injury originally sustained last week. Auriemma said that Banks aggravated the injury in practice on Tuesday. Her status for Saturday's game at the XL Center against South Florida is unclear. ... Stewart scored 16 points Wednesday, bringing her 139 points shy of becoming the 39th player in UConn history to score 1,000. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kelly Faris both reached the milestone in the same game last season, Feb. 23, 2013, against Seton Hall on senior night. Stewart has played in 56 games in her career, meaning that she is already past the point of challenging Maya Moore's mark of reaching 1,000 faster (55 games) than any player in program history. But Stewart could do it more quickly than Svetlana Abrosimova (63) or Mosqueda-Lewis (64), who are right behind Moore, UConn's all-time scoring leader. Also, Bria Hartley (1,648) passed Barbara Turner into 13th place all-time. Next on the list is UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph (1,678). And Stefanie Dolson (1,564) is in 16th place, 19 points behind Swin Cash.