Af­ter rolled an­kle in first half, UK fresh­man says shoes weren’t bro­ken in

Lexington Herald-Leader (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JERRY TIP­TON

Ken­tucky’s 78-61 vic­tory over UNC Greens­boro in­cluded a cau­tion­ary tale for young­sters who dream about some­day be­ing bas­ket­ball stars: Kids, break in your new shoes be­fore wear­ing them in a game.

The con­se­quence for not do­ing so hit home with 3:17 left in the first half. That’s when Kel­don John­son jumped to re­bound a three-point shot by UNC Greens­boro. The ball rolled around the rim, per­haps caus­ing John­son to ad­just in mid-air. He landed awk­wardly and laid on the floor in ob­vi­ous pain.

“It was like he was shot by a sniper,” UK Coach John Cali­pari said.

Af­ter a few min­utes John­son got up, but he needed help off the court and on a slow hob­ble to the locker-room.

John­son re­turned in the se­cond half good as new. He nearly posted a dou­ble-dou­ble af­ter half­time with eight points and eight re­bounds. He fin­ished with 13 points and a ca­reer­high 11 re­bounds.

Af­ter the game, he said he rolled his left an­kle, in part, be­cause he had not prop­erly bro­ken in a new pair of shoes.

“I broke them in a lit­tle bit in the work­outs and the shootaround,” he said. “It was painful. But I think it was more scary be­cause it was the same an­kle I hurt be­fore.”

John­son sheep­ishly ac­knowl­edged a change to an older pair of more flex­i­ble shoes helped him play in the se­cond half.

Team­mate Reid Travis of­fered ad­vice on how he pre­pares to wear new shoes. “I usu­ally break them in for at least three days,” he said. “That’s just a com­fort deal for me.

“But Kel­don’s a stylish guy. He likes to switch it up a lit­tle bit. So maybe he’s learned. Maybe he’ll break them in a cou­ple days be­fore now.”

UN­PRECE­DENTED

The game con­tained a never-seen-in-pub­lic mo­ment. Tyler Herro missed a free throw. He made ev­ery foul shot in UK’s four games in the Ba­hamas in Au­gust.

Herro came into Sat­ur­day’s game hav­ing made 10 of 10 this sea­son. He hit his first two against UNC Greens­boro.

But with 16:29 left in the game, Herro missed one of two. Then barely a minute later, he missed an­other one of two.

“I don’t miss,” he said af­ter­ward. “I don’t know what hap­pened.”

GO LEFT, YOUNG MAN

Cali­pari said he wanted Travis to use his left hand more when try­ing to fin­ish around the bas­ket. It’s ad­vice the UK big man wants to heed.

“There were a few times I was on the left side of the bucket, and got it in my right hand,” Travis said.

Of course, the right hand in that sit­u­a­tion is closer to the de­fender, thus mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble for the of­fen­sive player to use his body to shield off a block at­tempt.

“Just a bad habit of do­ing that,” Travis said. “Just go up and shoot a left hook . ... It’s some­thing I’ve watched film on, and he’s try­ing to cor­rect . ... I’m con­fi­dent I’ll put the reps in.”

NICK OF TIME

Nick Richards played only one minute. Fans cheered his en­try into the game at the 12: 53 mark of the se­cond half. Sixty-five sec­onds later, he went back to the bench and did not reen­ter the game.

That cameo ap­pear­ance in­cluded a block while in help de­fense, but there was also a foul for set­ting an il­le­gal screen.

When asked about Richards’ blink-andyou’ll-miss-it play­ing time, Cali­pari said, “I’m

FIGHT TO WIN

Al­though again say­ing Ken­tucky had plenty of im­prove­ment to make in the com­ing weeks and month, Cali­pari said he liked what he saw in this game.

“To­day, we fought to win,” he said. “We did. And that’s what we’ve got to do for 40 (min­utes). Let’s go. Fight to win.”

Cali­pari sin­gled out John­son’s fight, which in­cluded the ca­reer-high 11 re­bounds.

“He fought like crazy ...,” Cali­pari said. “I went with seven guys who were re­ally go­ing pretty good. I just said, ‘We’re play­ing seven.’ That’s kind of old-school stuff. But who­ever was re­ally com­pet­ing and fight­ing, that’s who I left in the game.”

ALEX SLITZ [email protected]­ald-leader.com

Ken­tucky guard Kel­don John­son drives past UNC Greens­boro for­ward Kyrin Gal­loway dur­ing Sat­ur­day’s game. John­son in­jured his an­kle in the first half.

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