John Calipari discusses Reid Travis’ injury
In assessing how Reid Travis contributed to Kentucky’s victory over No. 1 Tennessee on Saturday, associate coach Kenny Payne said, “I can’t imagine Reid Travis not being on this team, and what he’s meant.”
Now, Kentucky might be forced to do such imagining.
Travis sprained his right knee in the second half of Kentucky’s 66-58 victory at Missouri on Tuesday.
While not definite about the severity of the injury, UK Coach John Calipari mentioned the possibility of Travis missing games.
“We’ll get the MRI and go from there and see,” Calipari said after the game. “Hopefully, he’s going to be OK.”
Going into the Missouri game, Travis was UK’s leading rebounder (7.5 per game) in Southeastern Conference play. In the game against Tennessee, he drew widespread praise for matching UT strongman Grant Williams muscle for muscle.
Kentucky’s depth of “bigs” factored in the victory at Missouri. EJ Montgomery’s foul trouble enhanced Nick Richards’ contributions. Richards’ seven points were the most he has scored since Jan. 29. His four rebounds equaled his most since Jan. 22. And his 13 minutes were the most he’s played since Jan. 29.
“That’s why we coach every kid like he’s a starter,” Calipari said. “For this reason. Now, all of a sudden, say (Travis) is out a week or two, if anybody had said, ‘You should have been playing more,’ you’re going to play more. Have at it. Let’s see how you do now.”
Tying Joe B.
With the victory, Calipari moved into a tie with Joe B. Hall for the second-most victories by a UK coach. Each has 297.
“I wish I hadn’t …,” Calipari said. “What Coach Hall did for Kentucky following an absolute (legend), maybe one of the greatest ever to coach this game …, and then get to Final Fours and win a national championship.
“What he did here and how he did it, and then he became my mentor and my friend.”
Hall had the unenviable duty of succeeding Adolph Rupp as Kentucky coach. He led UK to Final Fours in 1975, 1978 and 1984. His team won the 1978 national championship.
Calipari did not sound pleased to be on the cusp of surpassing Hall’s victory total.
“You want his place in history (preserved),” Calipari said. “So it’s kind of like you probably shouldn’t stay here long enough to win more games than him.”
When asked about surpassing Rupp, who won 876 games as Kentucky coach, Calipari quipped, “Coach Hall is not coaching anymore. So I don’t think he can catch Adolph.”
Change of plans
A forecast of snow in Columbia overnight led to a change of plans. UK spent the night here.
“Every time we come here, it’s either an ice storm, rain storm, a snow storm,” Calipari said. “Something. I don’t know if we’re right outside Anchorage (Alaska) or where the heck we are.
“We have to stay overnight. In the last probably 19 regular seasons, we have not stayed overnight.”
Kentucky won even though Missouri had only 12 turnovers. Of those 12 turnovers, nine resulted in a stoppage of play. Therefore, UK had only two fast-break points and 18 points off turnovers.
In Missouri’s last game, the Tigers had 25 turnovers. The opponent, Ole Miss, had 32 points of turnovers.
After Missouri beat Arkansas 79-78 on Feb. 12, Coach Cuonzo Martin said, “If we take care of the ball, we’re a different team.”
UK point guard Ashton Hagans made a career-high two three-pointers. He had made five previously, including only one of eight in the five most recent games.
“I told (teammates), they’re playing off me,” he said. “Just throw it to me. I’m going to knock it down.”
Immanuel Quickley, who had made four of 20 three-point shots in the last 10 games, made one of two from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, Missouri guard Mark Smith came into the game having made 47.1 percent of his three-point shots. That was the best accuracy of any SEC player.
Smith, a sophomore from Edwardsville, Ill., missed all seven of his shots. That included zero of five from three-point range.
Smith was playing his second game since missing six games because of an ankle sprain.
When asked if the ankle affected Smith’s shooting, Missouri Coach Cuonzo Martin said, “Oh yeah. No question about it.”
Smith had about two inches of tape around the ankle, Martin said.