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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky freshman Willie Cauley-Stein had a “minor procedure” on his left knee Thursday due to an old ailment and UK coach John Calipari said Friday he’s still not sure about his status for Saturday night’s game at Auburn.
“Old injury, and he won’t practice today, but he’s walking around, so we’ll see,” Calipari said Friday. “Let me say this: I can’t talk medically about it, OK. The impact if he doesn’t play is that we’re one short of where we were. But against Duke he played six minutes. Maryland, he was not a factor. So what happens is, other guys got to step up and play. Jarrod’s got to get some minutes, maybe Jon Hood gets some minutes and is effective, but obviously we’re not as big and long as we were with him.”
Calipari even joked to WLEX-TV sports anchor “don’t be chasing me down a hallway either). I want him to come back tomorrow, obviously,” when asked about when the freshman might return.
“He probably is going to come back after a short period and be rested and ready to go, I would imagine. But he’ll be weight training and doing anything else and running and all the other stuff, so he’ll be fine,” Calipari said.
Calipari said there had been times the old injury had impacted Cauley-Stein in games.
There were times where he’s like, ‘You got to get me out.’ We had a shootaround the other day and he stopped in the shootaround. I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He’s just walking around like nothing. Again, nothing major, but it was an old thing he just never did anything about. And let me say thi.: We didn’t have to do anything. It could’ve been, ‘You’re fine. Put the knee sleeve on and go.’ But as you know, that’s not how we operate here. If I err, I’m going to err on the side of the kid. Let’s just be safe,” Calipari said.
If Cauley-Stein doesn’t play, that means freshman Alex Poythress likely will slide back to power forward and Kyle Wiljter, who had a solid game against Tennessee, plays more minutes at the small forward spot.
“Well we have been dealing with Willie (for a while). Again, it was an injury —I hate to tell you — since junior high school. For the last couple of weeks (it’s flared up). So, it just happened to where, ‘Alright, Let’s go.’ Let’s see. It’s all good. It’s all good. We’re one short for a short while. Thank God it was nothing major,” Calipari said., “You get dings and bruises in this thing. You get hit, kicked, bumped, come down wrong on an ankle. I mean there’s all kind of stuff that happens in this game. Some guys, you’ve got to miss it, you miss a game or two.”
Sophomore point guard Ryan Harrow, who missed four games for peronsal reasons, said the players have been encourging Cauley-Stein.
“We have been telling him that we want him back on the floor whenever he can get back,” Harrow said.
That goes for Wiltjer, too.
“Yeah, he’s a big part of our team. But, I feel like we have other big guys who can step up so we’re just going to keep being positive,” Wiltjer said.