By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky wants and needs Reid Travis back. Just ask freshman Tyler Herro how much UK misses Travis, who has not played the last five games because of a sprained knee.
“He’s a huge part of our team, obviously, leadership-wise. We want him back, but of course we don’t want to rush him back,” Herro said after Saturday’s win over Florida.
“It’s whatever is best for him. We are going off of what he says. Hopefully, sooner rather than later. He can make a tremendous impact. Without having him on the floor, it’s a little different.
“He does a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet, you know, just getting it inside with the big plays. So, we want him back.”
No UK player has missed Travis more than PJ Washington. He was having a SEC Player of the Year type season before Travis went out. Since the injury, teams have loaded their defenses inside to stop Washington.
“Obviously, we need Reid back. He’s a tough guy and is great on both sides of the ball,” Washington said. “He makes shots, he rebounds the ball really well, and he’s a leader for us. We’re missing him a little bit and we can’t wait until he gets back.”
Kentucky opens SEC Tournament play Friday night. Kentucky coach John Calipari was very vague after the Florida game about when Travis might play again. However, make no mistake that Travis impacts the game in a lot of ways.
“I think they got too many easy shots in the first half,” UK freshman Keldon Johnson said about Florida’s early offense against UK on Saturday. “Too many back doors. Lackadaisical cuts to the basket, second-chance points. We knew we had to fix that in the second half if we wanted to win. We knew that we definitely had to be more aggressive and impose our will. That’s where we miss Reid a lot. Having him makes it a lot easier to do that.”