Wichita State was leading Ohio State by 20 points in the West Regional final, but the last thing the Shockers wanted to see was his 6-foot-8 presence missing down low.
Early writhed in pain, although it didn't appear the junior forward had collided with anybody. He soon hobbled off the court and into the locker room. Carl Hall, the team's other 6-8 forward, had already taken an elbow to the jaw in the Shockers' eventual 70-66 win that sent them to the Final Four.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall was worried about Hall because he thought he had sustained a concussion from the blow.
"I felt a little better about Cle because it was like the boy who cried wolf with injuries," Marshall said. "I had seen that many times this season. I thought we'd have to call the ambulance or get out a stretcher or whatnot, and the next thing I know he's back in practice.
"I heard he was getting X-rays, and next thing I know he's back in the game. He's an interesting bird. But it was great to get them both back in the game."
Early said he was stepping back when he hurt his ankle.
"I had my ankles taped so I thought I'd be fine, but clearly not," he said.