Kentucky’s loss to Evansville was caused in part by nagging injuries, specifically EJ Montgomery’s ankle and Ashton Hagan’s leg. Today, John Calipari said both veterans are inching closer to 100% ahead of tomorrow night’s game vs. Utah Valley.
Montgomery suffered an ankle injury in the Michigan State game and sat out the last two games, wearing a walking boot on the sidelines. He was spotted in the Joe Craft Center without the boot today, but did not practice.
“He’s not on the court with us but he’s doing some stuff. My guess is a week away. I don’t know. Maybe longer. It’ll be nice to get him back and have a roster.”
Cal reminded reporters that not having EJ had a huge impact on Kentucky’s post play vs. Evansville.
“I know it’s not that big a deal, but EJ’s out and he’s still out,” Cal said. “EJ didn’t play in that game. Now, other than you guys, no one will say that. We played with one of our best players out. I mean, we’re not there yet.”
“Nick playing too many minutes. So now, all of a sudden, guys are playing more minutes than they’re capable of playing, which means you have mental lapses.”
Hagans has been battling a mysterious leg injury since the preseason. The long break between games has helped him recover; however, Calipari said that Kentucky cannot afford for Hagans to play another game at anything less than 100%.
“I think Ashton will be healthier for this game. He was kind of hurt that last game. Now it seems like he’s healthier. We’ve got some other guys that seem to be beat up a bit.”
“I’ve got a great group of guys, we’re just beat up. Ashton has to play well for us to do well,” he added. “I said to him, if that’s who you’re going to be, you shouldn’t have played this game because you hurt yourself and you hurt us. We may not have been able to win it anyway, but we would have tried to get by with six guys. We’ve got six. Please don’t foul people out for no reason. But he’s a great kid and he’s trying but he’s a little bit beat up. A few nicks and bruises and stuff.”
With so many players battling injuries, Cal joked that he’s had to fill in at practice.
“I was in the other day. I made four threes. I was so embarrassed, I stopped.”