Kentucky is expected to be without strongman Reid Travis for at least two weeks after an MRI confirmed on Wednesday that he sprained his right knee during the second half of Tuesday’s win at Missouri, according to a press release from the team. No further damage to Travis’ knee was detected.
On his radio show that aired Wednesday night before the results of the MRI were revealed, UK Coach John Calipari spoke of Travis missing the next two or three games.
“I would say, at the least, he’s going to be out a week to 10 days,” Calipari said. “Maybe two weeks.”
Kentucky’s next game is against Auburn on Saturday in Rupp Arena. Next week’s schedule has UK playing Arkansas at home next Tuesday and then at No. 5 Tennessee on March 2.
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Associate coach Kenny Payne, who substituted for Calipari in the second half of the radio show, said the obvious: Travis will be missed for however long he is sidelined.
“If we’re anytime without Reid Travis, it makes us all nervous,” Payne said.
This echoed something Payne said after Travis drew credit for neutralizing Tennessee star Grant Williams in Kentucky’s 86-69 victory over the Vols last Saturday.
“I can’t imagine Reid Travis not being on this team, and what he’s meant,” Payne said Monday.
Calipari called Travis’ injury “a freak thing” that apparently will interrupt a season in which the graduate transfer from Stanford has given UK a physical presence around the basket, its top rebounder in Southeastern Conference play and an experienced leader.
“I feel bad for him,” Calipari said. “He’s worked so hard. Having so much fun and having such an impact. . . . Fate intervenes sometimes.”
Calipari and Payne both pointed out that an injury to one player creates opportunity for another player or players.
In this case, the door opens for Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery, the two “bigs” who have backed up PJ Washington and Travis.
Richards, who had one of his most productive games at Missouri (seven points, four rebounds in 13 minutes), must use speed and athleticism to be effective, Calipari said. Richards can’t get bogged down in a physical wrestling match with an opposing big man.
Payne said Richards had to overcome mental hurdles. With self-confidence, Richards is “probably the best big man in the country.”
Montgomery picked up four fouls in 16 minutes at Missouri, but Calipari saluted his defense down the stretch on Tigers big man Jeremiah Tilmon.
Payne added that Montgomery’s personality shows “he’s going to fight through adversity.”
Calipari called for Washington, Kentucky’s most productive player of late, to do more.
“I told PJ, ‘now, you’ve got to be that guy,’” Calipari said “‘We have no one else to go rough house. . . .’
“That’s what’s going to make it hard for PJ. But let’s just hope he holds the fort down for a couple weeks, and we get Reid back and go.”