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Basketball Season Coverage

(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Today On KSR: More from Mizzou and what’s ahead

(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Good morning from lovely Lexington, Ky., where every bed in the Wildcat Coal Lodge is empty because the team didn’t make it back from Missouri last night. After escaping Missouri’s Mizzou Arena with an ugly win, the team learned they wouldn’t be going anywhere, breaking from the norm of an immediate exit to get home following a game. Coach Cal said he couldn’t think of another time his team stayed overnight during the regular season, but inclement weather postponed the departure and sent the team back to the hotel to see if their rooms were still available from the night before. The hope is they’ll make it back early this afternoon, and it shouldn’t set them back too far because it’s an off-day from practice.

Here at Kentucky Sports Radio dot com, though, it’s never an off-day, so join me for another fun-filled day of UK basketball web content. Take in more from last night’s win, plus a little bit of other stuff that’s on my coffee-drunk mind.


The latest update on Reid Travis is there is no update on Reid Travis.

The most important issue flooding our hearts and minds today is the status of Reid Travis after he hobbled off the court in the second half of last night’s game. Travis collided with his teammate, Keldon Johnson, and though it didn’t look too bad on television, he disappeared to the locker room and never returned. Travis walked off the court on his own, which is positive, but the look on his face showed some serious concern.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely we hear anything soon. Coach Cal couldn’t provide an update afterward and Travis won’t get an MRI until the team lands back in Lexington later today. Cal has his call-in show tonight, but it might be Friday’s pre-Auburn press conference before we know anything.

Please be OK.

Play of the Game: Nick Richards knocking over two people with a dunk.

What happened there? Whatever it was, it was funny.

Richards had a pretty good game, by the way.

It’s really hard to like that Geist guy, right?

Mizzou’s Jordan Geist isn’t going to win college basketball’s Most Likable Player of the Year award. The senior guard is a lethal combo of cheap-shot artist and flopper, two qualities you don’t want to see in a basketball player. Whenever he wasn’t flopping and flailing around after phantom contact from Ashton Hagans or whoever was within five feet of him, he was throwing in some unnecessary, extracurricular activity, typical of a Cuonzo Martin player.

If Geist were any better, we’d actually care and he’d probably be a bigger story around college basketball. But by this time next week we all will have forgotten Jordan Geist exists until he pops back up for one game at the SEC Tournament during the Wednesday night session.

I wouldn’t be too concerned about Kentucky’s second half performance. 

As John Calipari noted in his postgame comments, once Reid Travis left the game, he told his team to “let the air out of the ball” and just get out of there. Had Kentucky kept pushing the pace and playing aggressively, the final margin is probably a little wider. But the Cats were playing to get the hell out, and when you throw in a couple of late, meaningless three-pointers by Mizzou, the final score is a little misleading.

Big football news you might’ve missed: Brad White will become UK’s new defensive coordinator.

Right around tip-off in last night’s game, KSR broke the news that linebackers coach Brad White will earn a promotion to become the new defensive coordinator at Kentucky. Earlier in the day, Ole Miss linebackers coach Jon Sumrall reportedly joined the UK staff, presumably to take over the linebackers for White, who will now take over for Matt House as D.C.

It’s a great move and it’s the move most everyone wanted to see. Nick Roush will tell you all about it here.

There is some good college basketball on tap tonight.

The unexpected second-place LSU Tigers host Florida in a game that could impact Kentucky’s SEC Tournament seeding or even the outright winner of the regular season crown. A win puts LSU in a tie for first with Tennessee, or in a tie with Kentucky for second with a loss. It’s one to keep an eye on.

Then all eyes will be on Cameron Indoor in the 9 p.m. game when No. 1 Duke hosts No. 8 North Carolina on ESPN in one of the biggest games of the entire season. You’ll probably want to tune in to that one for at least a minute or four.

The Bourbon Classic kicks off today.

Today marks the beginning of one of my favorite times of the year, the Bourbon Classic in Louisville. You may remember me writing about some of my experiences at the Bourbon Classic in years past, and I’ll be back again this year after a year away. Tonight’s event is already sold out, but I encourage you to look into some of the other Bourbon Classic happenings, like Friday night’s “Cocktail and Culinary Challenge” in downtown Louisville. It’s a bunch of talented chefs working with a bunch of knowledgable bartenders pairing their food and drinks together for a competition and you get to eat and drink all of it — all 20 small plate and drink pairings. See the full list of events here.

Now back to Reid Travis news watch…

© Denny Medley | USATSI

Kentucky won, but all anyone cares about is Reid Travis’ knee

© Denny Medley | USATSI

For about 90 minutes, this felt like a typical mid-February game vs. a bad SEC team. Kentucky was up by 15 and Missouri was trying to stay alive by slowing the game down to an excruciating crawl.

That’s when it happened; Keldon Johnson went up for a defensive rebound and fell into Reid Travis on his way down, causing Reid’s right knee to bend inward. Reid immediately fell back in pain, clutching his knee, and when Kentucky called a timeout, limped off the court. From there, he went to the locker room. Ten minutes later, Kentucky announced that Reid had a sprained right knee and would not return. Afterwards, John Calipari didn’t have any specifics, simply saying Reid will get an MRI and hopefully be okay, and if he’s not, EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards will have to step up in his place.

Kentucky went on to win the game 66-58, but no one will remember the final score. They’ll remember Reid’s injury, and if it’s severe, how poorly the Cats played after it. Naturally, part of it was the players adjusting to Reid being out, but they let Mizzou push them around under the basket and on the boards. The Tigers ended up winning the rebounding battle 34-28, 16-6 on the offensive boards. Twelve of Missouri’s offensive rebounds came after Reid exited the game, which would normally send Calipari on a lengthy postgame rant; instead, Cal shouldered part of the blame, admitting that once Reid got hurt, he just wanted to get out of the gym, which led to his team taking possessions down to the shot clock and playing more tentatively than usual. Should Reid be out for an extended amount of time, you have to think they’ll play better than that.

It feels like nothing really matters other than Reid’s knee right now, but let’s roll through some quick hitters about the rest of the game before shutting the book on an ugly night in Columbia.

PJ Washington and Tyler Herro played well

PJ Washington’s streak of 20-point games ended tonight, but he turned in another impressive performance, finishing with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block in 37 minutes. Fifteen of PJ’s 18 points came in the first half, and there was a stretch before halftime in which it felt like he couldn’t be stopped. PJ’s earned a lot of accolades this week, including Oscar Robertson Player of the Week, so it was good to see him follow it up with another solid night, despite some cramping issues at the very end (did I mention how ugly this game was?).

Tyler Herro also had 18 points, the most he’s scored since the Florida game in Gainesville on February 2. Herro always seems to play better on the road, and tonight, his most impressive work came at the line, where he was a perfect 8-8. In SEC play, Tyler has only missed one free throw, vs. Tennessee on Saturday, an incredible mark that deserves recognition.

Speaking of free throws…

…Kentucky going 19-22 (86 percent) from the charity stripe sure is a silver lining on a stormy night. According to Corey Price, that’s the Cats’ third best free-throw shooting performance in the Calipari era, and their best since the 2015 season. With Mizzou attempting to make it a game in the last five minutes, Kentucky went 10-10 from the free throw line, a promising sign as we get closer to March.

Second half Ashton > First half Ashton

Ashton Hagans did not play well in the first half, not scoring and turning the ball over three times to only one assist. In the second half, he was able to shoot his way out of a funk, scoring 12 points, including three of four threes. Whoulda thunk it? Tellingly, Calipari let Ashton play through his struggles over subbing in Immanuel Quickley, and it worked. Hopefully that confidence will carry over to Saturday, because Ashton will need it vs. Auburn’s guards.

Kentucky can’t leave Columbia tonight

There are few things John Calipari hates more than staying in an opposing team’s town the night after a game, but bad weather will keep the Cats in Columbia tonight. After grumbling about it, Cal said he hopes the team can fly back to Lexington tomorrow.

What is this team without Reid?

I really hope we don’t have to find out, but the question looms on the horizon like the winter storm that’s keeping the Cats in CoMo. The obvious answer is EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards have to step up. Richards had a promising first half, with seven points off 3-3 from the floor and four rebounds, and even started the second half, but quickly got taken out after a mistake. EJ played significantly more minutes in the second half and looked okay, but let Missouri’s bigs push him out of position.

PJ Washington’s play will also be affected. Part of his success in recent weeks is thanks to Reid, who has born the brunt of guarding guys like Grant Williams and clearing out space for PJ under the basket. How will PJ cope if Reid has to be out for a while? I keep coming back to something Kenny Payne said yesterday.

“It doesn’t always show up in the stats, what he means to this program, but I can only say this to you guys: I can’t imagine Reid Travis not on this team.

Me neither. Be okay, Reid’s knee.

BARLEYCORN’S HIGHLIGHTS: Kentucky grinds out 66-58 win over Missouri

BARLEYCORN’S HIGHLIGHTS: Kentucky grinds out 66-58 win over Missouri

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It wasn’t pretty, but Kentucky did just enough to come away with a 66-58 win over Missouri. PJ Washington and Tyler Herro led the way for the Wildcats with 18 points apiece, while Ashton Hagans added 12 points of his own. The entire second half was a struggle for Kentucky, especially on the offensive end.

Luckily, you can skip through the rough parts and just re-watch the best moments, thanks to our friends at KY Wildcats TV. Check out the highlights here:

(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

LIVE: John Calipari recaps the win at Mizzou

(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

John Calipari is at the podium to discuss Kentucky’s win before he leaves Columbia. You can follow along via the Facebook live stream:

Ashton Hagans and PJ Washington had some things to say about the game too:

Kentucky leads Missouri 41-23 at the half

Kentucky leads Missouri 41-23 at the half

Photo: UK Athletics

Those expecting a hangover game following Kentucky’s big victory over Tennessee on Saturday were (happily) proven wrong this evening.

On the road against Missouri, Kentucky currently leads 41-23 at halftime.

PJ Washington leads all scorers with 15 points (6-10 shooting, 2-4 from three) to go with five rebounds and two assists.

Tyler Herro is continuing his dominant ways on the road, finishing with ten points (3-5 shooting, 2-4 from three), four rebounds, one assist, and one steal.

Nick Richards has seven points (3-3 shooting) and four rebounds in just seven minutes of action.

Beyond those three, Immanuel Quickley, Reid Travis, and Keldon Johnson each have three points at the break.

Here is the entire box score:

Finish them off.

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