When Reid Travis rose from the bench at the 17:19 mark of the first half to check in, the Kentucky fans in Bridgestone Arena joined him. After watching the Cats play without Reid for five games following his knee injury, the Big Blue Nation gave the fifth-year senior a standing ovation.
Reid Travis gets a standing ovation when he checks in pic.twitter.com/CQgFWVictm
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) March 15, 2019
Reid said the moment was another reminder that his decision to come to Kentucky for his final year of eligibility was the right one.
“It was cool,” Reid said of the standing ovation. “I loved it. The fans here are the best in the country. BBN, just showing a lot of love. When they give you a reward, it’s special. A lot of appreciation. It’s a lot of love from them.”
It’s well deserved. With Reid back in, Kentucky looked like itself again, punishing teams inside and out. PJ Washington, Nick Richards, and EJ Montgomery were able to keep the middle from collapsing for the most part while Reid’s knee healed, but the Cats desperately missed his presence on the boards. Reid didn’t score in the first half, but made an impact with three blocks and a boatload of hustle. In the second half, he played 16 minutes, scoring eight points and pulling down six rebounds.
“We’re back as a complete team,” Ashton Hagans said of having Reid back in the lineup. “It actually makes all of our jobs easier. He’s down there in a dogfight all night, fighting in the paint, beating a guy up for us, so as he’s down there, we know that we can guard our man on the outside on the perimeter and that just helps us a lot.”
“It opens up everything,” Keldon Johnson agreed. “He’s just another presence down low that we have and he can do it all. He can block shots, he can make shots, he can make tough plays, tough rebounds. Just all around, he brings that toughness and grit to our team.”
“It was definitely great,” PJ Washington agreed. “He brought a lot of toughness to us and he blocked a lot of shots and rebounded the ball really well. A lot of putbacks. It’s just great to have a leader like that on the floor and someone who’s really physical.”
“Reid means everything to this team,” Immanuel Quickley said. “He’s a veteran. He’s more mature than everybody here, including some of the coaches. He’s just like a big brother for us. We can talk to him about things on and off the court. He really feels like family.”
When Reid drew his fourth foul with just over five minutes left, it looked like he was heading to the bench for good; however, he checked back in just over a minute later, ready to help his team close out the final seconds. For Reid, it’s all about savoring his time left as a Wildcat.
“It was great to be out there. Once it’s taken away from you for a little bit, you get a new appreciation for it. I just wanted to come out and have fun.”
And all the blue in the building? Even though the season is wrapping up, the BBN never ceases to amaze him.
“It blows me away. Just coming out to warm ups and I think I said, ‘It’s a home game.’ And you just hear, when we score, the roof coming off the building. It’s ridiculous that they travel but you kind of expect it at this point, but I’m still surprised even though that I know it’s going to be all blue in the arena.”