5 takeaways from Kentucky’s win over Missouri
Kentucky got out of Missouri with what would classify as an “ugly win” but in the end the win is all that matters. The biggest news of the game came with about 10 minutes to go in the second half when Reid Travis injured his knee. Keldon Johnson fell backwards into him and Reid went to the ground and had to leave the game. The initial diagnosis was a knee sprain but Cal said they would have an MRI done. Cal threw out the possibility that Reid could be out for a couple of weeks but until an MRI is done it is just speculation. Best case scenario seems to be that he would miss a few games. Worst case scenario is he is done for the season. For now we wait for more information. While we wait, here are my takeaways from the game.
- This team needs Reid Travis to compete for a title- In the short term I think the Cats will be fine and cover for the loss of Reid. In the long term they need him back and healthy if they want to compete for the championship. He is not the best player on the team but he is the backbone of it. He gives a toughness and confidence that the young team really needs. He is this teams Chuck Hayes and everyone knows how vital Hayes was to the Cats success for many seasons. Get healthy soon Reid!
- Opportunity is knocking for Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery- The duo has been working to find time on the court this season and their minutes are about to go way up with Reid out of the lineup. Even if Reid is only out for a few games, it will give Nick and EJ a chance to get on the floor more and hopefully build some confidence. In the long run it could work out in Kentucky’s favor if they can use these games to get the duo playing well. Then if Reid can come back it would make the front-court depth even better. Cal always preaches that guys have to be prepared because you never know when your time will come. The time is now for Richards and Montgomery.
- PJ Washington continues to dominate- He finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in the win. He was once again the most dominant player on the floor and continues to make a strong case for SEC player of the year. He made two 3’s and looks so confident in his shot when he puts it up. The transformation of his game has been so impressive to watch. There is no longer any question about who this teams go to guy is. When the Cats need points, the ball needs to get in PJ’s hands.
- This teams free throw shooting will be clutch in March- It is no secret that poor free throw shooting has been an issue for Kentucky in the past. This team is hands down the best free throw shooting team that Cal has ever had. When the NCAA tournament rolls around that is going to be a tremendous help for this team as they attempt to win close games down the stretch. Obviously having an all-time great type of shooter from the stripe like Tyler Herro really helps but his teammates are very good as well.
- This team is still learning how to put teams away- They got a big lead but let the Tigers cut the lead all the way down to 6 points late in the contest. Part of that was due to the loss of Reid Travis and the impact it had on the players. But it has been a persistent issue for this team as they continue to learn how to dominate teams for 40 minutes. They continue to make progress in that regard and still have a month to learn before it really matters the most.
The Cats will return to Rupp Arena on Saturday to face Auburn. Until then the big question will be about the health of Reid Travis. As soon as we hear anything we will share it on twitter.