By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky junior center Nick Richards watched his team’s exhibition victory over Kentucky State Friday night sitting on the bench with a boot on his injured left ankle.
Richards hurt his ankle in UK’s first exhibition game against Georgetown College on Sunday. The Cats open the season against No. 1 Michigan State on Tuesday in New York and there’s no doubt Richards’ presence inside would be a huge benefit against the Spartans.
But will he be ready to play?
“I know he’s been working around the clock,” Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus said after Friday’s win.
Justus was filling in for coach John Calipari who was not available because he was “under the weather” and admitted he was not “privy” to exactly what Richards was doing treatment-wise.
“I know he’s in there (getting treatment) a ton and he’s working as hard at that as he does on the floor,” Justus said. “And (UK athletics trainer) Geoffrey Staton does a tremendous job with our guys of getting them ready, getting them recovered.
“So I have no doubt that he’s in a good place in terms of getting back sooner. But really day-to-day, we’ll just figure that out. ”
Before the game, former UK All-American Rex Chapman had a different opinion on Richards’ status. During the UK Radio Network pregame show, Chapman said he didn’t see any way Richards would be able to play against Michigan State Tuesday in New York.
Chapman noted it was a “long season” and championships are not won in November, so even against Michigan State there was no reason to rush Richards into action before he is fully healthy.