By LARRY VAUGHT
Arkansas has a 90-89 win at LSU — the team that leads the Southeastern Conference and has wins over Kentucky and LSU — but has lost five straight games going into Tuesday night’s game at Kentucky.
“We just try to go out and treat every opponent the same and go and fight and get a W,” Kentucky sophomore EJ Montgomery said Monday.
The Razorbacks’ best player is 6-11 sophomore Daniel Gafford. He had 23 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M, his ninth double-double of the season. He’s averaging 16.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He’s the only player in the SEC to rank among the top five in rebounding, field goal percentage (66.3), scoring , blocked shots, offensive rebounds (2.9) and defensive rebounding (6.1). He is just one of two players nationally to shoot at least 60 percent from the field and average at least 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game.
“I heard he’s pretty good. He’s going to be a challenge. We just want to go out there and fight, compete and try to get a win,” Montgomery said.
“You look at a guy that shoots 85 percent around the rim, that is a tremendous finisher,” Kentucky assistant Joel Justus said Monday. “He’s a guy that you’ve got to do your work before he gets the ball. That’s obviously easier said than done.
“From all of our standpoint, it’s a big challenge for our guys. It’s a big challenge for our young guys. It would be a big challenge for anyone. It’s easy to see that by his numbers, by his production this season. It’s great for our guys. Once again, it’s a challenge. We’ve got to see where we are tomorrow night.”
Kentucky will have to do it a second straight game without senior Reid Travis, who is out with a sprained knee. However, UK had no trouble routing Auburn without him as both Montgomery and Nick Richards got more playing time.
“We all collectively came in and added a little bit extra. What Reid did, he was a big guy and did a lot of things, but I think we stepped up,” Montgomery said. “I missed him a lot because me, PJ (Washington) and Nick had to do some of the things that he does. We just went out there and just competed.”
Montgomery says never doubt the physical presence that Travis adds.
“When I first saw him, I saw he was a huge dude. But I was glad he was on my team,” Montgomery said.
So what does not having Travis mean for Montgomery?
“Just boxing out, rebounding, doing all the little things that he did,” Montgomery said.