MBB vs. Alabama SEC

Kentucky graduate student forward Reid Travis takes a shot during the SEC tournament quarterfinals game against Alabama on Friday, March 15, 2019, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Reid Travis is back.

After nearly four weeks of being sidelined from a knee sprain suffered in Missouri, Travis immediately picked up 23 minutes in his return. He scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots to make UK’s SEC Tournament victory over Alabama very, very comfortable.

“I’m 100 percent,” Travis said after the game. “I wouldn't go out there if I didn't feel confident and strong in my knee. Ultimately, it's just going to take some time to get my rhythm back and things like that. But my body feels great right now.”

Travis progressed through his injury much faster than his coach predicted as well. John Calipari had said that Travis might play about five minutes to get him back into the swing of things, but Travis surprised everyone when he played well enough in practice to get the green light from Calipari on Thursday.

Before game day, Calipari said that Travis would certainly play, and that he’d be good to go for the game. Travis came off the bench and physically imposed his will. It’s something the team needed badly.

Without Reid Travis, Kentucky’s rebounding margin goes from 10 to three, fouls on big men aren’t soaked up nearly as much and the Crimson Tide probably dominate the game. The forwards that had been filling his place, E.J. Montgomery and Nick Richards, combined for five rebounds against Alabama.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Richards said after the game. “I saw how [Travis] trained, I saw how he tried to do rehab off the court… he was really adamant about staying in great condition.”

Great condition, to Reid Travis, means being the most physically imposing player on the court. At one point during the second half, he jumped for a contested rebound and almost got tied up with Alabama guard Dazon Ingram before twisting and ripping the ball from the 210-pound guard’s hands. He was fouled on the play.

“Good to have Reid back,” Calipari said in his press conference, sighing. “Just the strength in having a guy when it comes time, you have to go get the ball, he can physically get down there and go get it. It was good having him back.”

Cats fans can take a collective sigh, because Travis truly is back. If seven rebounds and three blocks is still trying to “get my rhythm back” for the graduate student, then there’s plenty more to look forward to in the minimum of two games that Kentucky has left.