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INJURY MAY HAVE ENDED UTE HOOPSTER PHIL DIXON'S CAREER

Chalk up yet another casualty for the hard-luck University of Utah basketball team. Phil Dixon, the team's starting forward, underwent surgery Friday to repair a serious laceration of his left leg. The injury not only will sideline Dixon for the remainder of the season, but could end his basketball career.

According to Dr. Robert Burks, one of the team's orthopedic surgeons, Dixon suffered an 80 percent laceration of the superficial peroneal nerve of the left leg - a major nerve a few inches below the knee.Burks called the surgery a success, but when asked about the prognosis, he said, "Guarded. We're wait-and-see right now. The worst-case scenario is that he would have a poor return of strength in a couple of the muscles that support and stabilize the foot. This probably would not be a problem for walking, but it's a matter of whether he'd be able to play basketball."

Dixon, a freshman from Toronto, Canada, suffered the injury Thursday night. He had just eaten dinner and was engaging in what has been described as horseplay with several teammates in the student union building when he reportedly tripped and fell into a plate glass window. The glass sliced about a four-inch gash in the skin, but, worse, it went deep into the leg and nearly severed the nerve.

"When you cut a nerve, you're not sure what will happen," said Burks. "Some nerves come back better than others, and this is not one of the great ones to come back. That doesn't mean it won't, though."

Dixon will be in a cast for six weeks. There is a possibility that he could still claim a redshirt year this season. Dixon has averaged 10.4 points in six games this season. In his first start last week against Denver, he scored 21 points, making five of six 3-point shots.

Dixon's injury comes at a time when the Utes are already vulnerable. Only hours before the accident, Ute coach Rick Majerus underwent open heart surgery in which doctors performed seven arterial bypasses. He remained in stable but critical condition Friday. Last Sunday, Walter Watts, Utah's starting center, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery that will sideline him for about two weeks.

The Utes, 4-2, play their first game in a week tonight when they meet Weber State in Ogden, beginning at 7:35.