By LARRY VAUGHT
INDIANAPOLIS — All that Kentucky coach John Calipari would say about Willie Cauley-Stein’s left ankle injury was that “it’s not a good ankle injury.”
The Kentucky sophomore center left the game against Louisville early in the first half and did not return after going to the locker room. CBS-TV reported that Cauley-Stein said he “heard a pop” but Kentucky officials said only that he hurt his ankle.
“The doctor told me he was absolutely going bonkers in the locker room for game, like for the team, cheering. They had to hold him down, he was going crazy,” Calipari said after the 74-69 win that included UK closing the game on a 15-3 run.
“We talked to him, and he just told us just to do it for him. So we want to just play every game for him and it’s a big motivation for us,” center Dakari Johnson, who had 15 points and six rebounds, said.
Cauley-Stein, UK’s top shot blocker, had one rebound in his four minutes.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he would not call Cauley-Stein a “difference maker on their team” but more of a “really good player” for Kentucky.
“I don’t think that (his injury) was a major factor (in the game),” Pitino said.
Alex Poythress, who took over the game in the final four minutes, talked to Cauley-Stein at halftime.
“I shook his hand and gave him a big hug,” Poythress said. “I told him we would try to win this for him, and we did. He’s a great shot blocker and we definitely missed him. We don’t know what it (the injury) is.”