There was a scary moment near the end of the first half when Keldon Johnson went up for a rebound and came down awkwardly on his ankle. Putting minimal weight on his left ankle he hobbled with support to the locker room.
Luckily for UK, things weren’t as bad as they looked.
Because according to John Calipari things looked really bad. Maybe even fatal.
“From where I was sitting it was like he was shot by a sniper and then he got right back up and started running around,” Calipari joked. “I didn’t see it. I thought maybe he stepped on somebody and then they told me that he did not step on anybody. And in the second half he said, ‘I’m ready to go.'”
Johnson doesn’t have a long history of injuries, but he did suffer a nagging ankle injury during his senior year of high school. It was the same ankle he tweaked today.
“He had an ankle sprain back in high school,” Calipari said. “He had that high-ankle sprain and maybe he tweaked it. But I told him we have three days off. He has the rest of today off, we’ve got tomorrow off and we’re only doing individual (workouts) on Monday, so he should be fine.”
Johnson’s trainer and former coach, Jeremy Grubbs (who now coaches at First Love Christian Academy) was at the game watching Johnson.
He provided more information about Johnson’s history of “dramatic” injuries.
“Everything Keldon does is loud so of course when he gets a little banged up it can be a production sometimes,” Grubbs said. “But as you saw when it comes down to it he’s gonna battle through it to win.”
And that’s exactly what Johnson did. When the second half started Johnson was ready to roll. He scored eight of his 13 points in the second half and pulled in eight of his 11 rebounds, too.
He also had two impressive dunks that helped fire up an already raucous Rupp Arena crowd.
But Johnson wouldn’t stand for the slander.
“I wouldn’t say (I’m dramatic),” Johnson said. “It hurt but I had to bounce back and get out there.”
Johnson’s recount of his injury isn’t overly thrilling or gripping. He went up, came down, rolled his ankle and was in pain.
“I came down and tweaked, rolled my ankle,” Johnson said. “That’s about it. I just came down on it wrong and rolled it.”
Johnson said it’s still sore but after treatment over the next few days it shouldn’t be an issue moving forward.
It seems like Keldon Johnson has another thing in common with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist than just being a great player for UK. We need to get used to “intense” injuries every so often. But hey, when you throw your body around like Keldon or MKG, bumps and bruises are bound to happen.
“Keldon played really hard,” Cal said on his postgame radio show. “He played really hard. Again, he has the fight. You’ve gotta fight. You’ve gotta fight to win games. You’ve gotta have the pride in stopping people. You’re not here just to play basketball to show what you can do. You’re here to fight and win, and by doing that, you show what you can do.”
We’re all glad he’s OK.