By LARRY VAUGHT
By midway of the first half, Kentucky center Reid Travis had 10 points and Kentucky’s offense was scoring at a pace fast enough to match hot-shooting Alabama.
However, Travis made just one of five shots in the second half to finish with 12 points, six rebounds and five turnovers in the 77-75 loss at Alabama to open Southeastern Conference play.
Kentucky coach John Calipari had a simple explanation for what happened to Travis.
“He reverted. He tried to gather himself on every catch,” Calipari said. “One, he walked. I mean, just catch it and dunk it. Why even try to gather.
“I told him, ‘All the work we put in, you got into this game and you didn’t trust it and you reverted.’ But he’ll be fine. He’s the least of our worries, believe me.”
Teammate PJ Washington had his own struggles even though he finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and just one turnover. However, Washington had just two rebounds the first half, then got four in the first five minutes of the second half. But he got just one more rebound the rest of the way.
Washington wasn’t about to let Travis take blame for the loss or get down on himself.
“We just tell him to keep his head up, keep fighting. We need him down the stretch. We need him for this team to win,” Washington said. “He’s doing a great job for us. He just had one bad half. He’ll shake it off and be ready for the next game.”
Travis also missed a 3-pointer later in the game when UK was trying to mount a comeback. He has made just five 3-pointers in UK’s previous 12 games, but Calipari said it was a called play.
“If you wonder about Reid’s 3, he was supposed to (take the shot). I called that in the timeout,” Calipari said. “I knew they were not going to play him and he can make that shot.”
He was right about Alabama not playing him and giving him the shot. He was wrong about him making it.
But Kentucky just made 13 of 37 shots in the second half — and that was by making six of its final eight shots.