By Jamie H. Vaught
After being out in nearly three weeks, missing five games, due to a knee sprain, graduate transfer Reid Travis returned to action against Alabama and gave the Wildcats a crucial boost for a 73-55 win Friday night in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Nashville. The victory improved UK’s record to 27-5, while the Crimson Tide dropped to 18-15.
While 6-8 Travis played a solid game in the front line with eight points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots in 23 minutes, he had a plenty of help from freshman Tyler Herro (pictured), who gunned in a game-high 20 points, and sophomore PJ Washington who recorded a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Unlike the previous matchup with Alabama back in early January when Kentucky was out-muscled on the boards and lost 77-75 in Tuscaloosa, the Wildcats won the rebounding war this time with a 42-32 margin. UK also blocked a season-high 11 shots, including nine in the first half.
“It was a good win,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari after the game. “I thought we really guarded. We rebounded. The last time we played them, they out-rebounded us by 10 rebounds (actually eight). This game we out-rebounded them by 10 rebounds.
“I still think we missed a bunch of shots. Ashton (Hagans) is 1-6, Keldon (Johnson) is 1-7. Two good offensive players. Good to have Reid back. Just the strength in having a guy when it comes time, you have to go get the ball, he can physically get down there and go get it. It was good having him back.”
Travis, who didn’t start, said he felt good when he entered the hardwood floor in the opening minutes.
“I'm 100%. I wouldn't go out there if I didn't feel confident and strong in my knee,” said Travis. “Ultimately it's just going to take some time to get my rhythm back and things like that. But my body feels great right now.”
Kentucky faces the winner of Friday night’s Tennessee-Mississippi State contest on Saturday, beginning at approximately 3:25 p.m. ET.
UK Athletics Photo