Kentucky walk-on Sam Malone lost the rest of the season when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament Saturday night. He didn't lose his sense of humor.
"I thought, how is this team going to win without me now?" Malone said Wednesday.
While UK basketball can mean examining the excruciating minutiae of each day's activity, Malone put a fourth major knee injury into perspective.
"Thank God it was me and not somebody else who plays a lot," he said. "If having a bad knee is my biggest problem, I'm doing all right for myself."
Malone noted that he tore an ACL from a cadaver that had been implanted in his left knee as part of an earlier surgical repair.
"I guess it wasn't a good cadaver," he said, dryly. "I think I'm going to use my own tendon next time. And he, obviously, wasn't very athletic either."
Malone tore the ACL as he drove into the lane late in UK's victory over Chattanooga.
"I knew something was wrong when I started walking toward the bench," he said. "I knew I twisted it bad. I didn't know if it was a sprain or I actually tore it."
The ACL tear marked Malone's fourth major knee injury in the last five years. Besides the earlier ACL tear, he also needed surgeries to repair meniscus and a separate microfracture procedure.
"I'm doing all right," he said. "I've been through this before. I know what to expect. I'm not nervous."
When asked if the basketball gods might be sending him a message to take up a more sedentary outlet like chess, Malone said, "I don't know. Everything happens for a reason, I believe. But it's just another bump in the road. I'll get back to it."
Giving up basketball was unthinkable.
"No way, no way," he said. "Keep going."
All-America candidate Terrence Jones sat out the Samford game after dislocating a finger on his shooting hand against Chattanooga last week.
UK Coach John Calipari said he did not expect Jones to practice Wednesday.
"He wants to play (against Loyola)," Calipari said. "I may not let him. So we'll see."
Junior Jon Hood said he was a little more than halfway through his rehabilitation of a torn ACL repair.
No decision has been made about whether to return later this season or make this a redshirt year, Hood said.
NBA 'killed me'
Loyola Coach Jimmy Patsos said he tries to schedule high-level opponents at the right time.
"I thought (Doron) Lamb would be in the NBA," he said. "The NBA strike killed me. You try to catch these teams in an off year."
At 8-2, Loyola is off to its best start since joining Division I in 1981-82.
"We press and run," Patsos said. "Sort of like Denny Crum's old (Louisville) teams."
UK was an attractive opponent for several reasons: good payday, a chance to play in Rupp Arena and the prospect of an up-tempo game.
"I don't want to go play Purdue," Patsos said, "where who can lift the most weights wins."
Loyola assistant G.G. Smith is the eldest son of former UK Coach Tubby Smith.
"I'm excited, I'm real excited," said the younger Smith, who played for Georgia before beginning his college coaching career as a graduate assistant for his father at UK.
The opportunity for Loyola players stirred his excitement, Smith said.
"At our school, at our level, to play in Rupp Arena," he said. "I'll talk to our guys before the game about playing in Rupp Arena. You don't want to get caught up in the mystique. At the same time, they're not going to play in a place better than Rupp Arena."
Patsos noted his hope that his team's transfers from higher-profile Division I schools might lessen the chance of star-struck players.
Sophomore center Jordan Latham began his college career at Xavier. Forward Shane Walker transferred from Maryland.
"They've been around it a little bit," said Patsos, who added that he wanted his team to compete for 40 minutes.
Loyola won 72-67 at Indiana two seasons ago.
■ Loyola is in Baltimore.
■ No. 3 Kentucky will be its highest-ranked opponent since Loyola lost by 30 at No. 3 Kansas on Jan. 8, 2008.
■ Dave Neal and former Rupp Runt Larry Conley will call the game for Fox Sports South.