By LARRY VAUGHT
His playing time remains limited — due in part to the way PJ Washington and Reid Travis are playing — but sophomore center Nick Richards seems “headed in the right direction” to Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne as the Cats get set to open Southeastern Conference play at Alabama Saturday afternoon.
“Again, the first half of the Louisville game, he had positive minutes. Something happened where somebody beat him to a ball for a rebound,” Payne said Thursday. “Well, in the second half of games, when it’s an eight- to 10-point game and can go either way, you’ve gotta have that ball. And we needed him to have that ball.”
When he didn’t get it, coach John Calipari put him on the bench and he did not play the second half.
“Coach took him out and told him, ‘These are the pivotal moments where you’ve gotta perform, that you’ve gotta produce. Nobody’s going to outwork you to get the basketball,'” Payne said.
“His role is going up. He’s going to be fine. We need him. Not we want him. We need Nick Richards to be really, really good for us to go far into the tournament.”