The Kentucky Wildcats were able to get a crucial Quad 1 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Wednesday night.
However, they were once again shorthanded in the backcourt with Sahvir Wheeler and CJ Fredrick both out. This was Wheeler’s third straight missed game and Fredrick’s second.
On Saturday, the Tennessee Volunteers will be coming into Rupp Arena, another massive opportunity for the Cats to build on their NCAA Tournament resume.
After the win Wednesday night, John Calipari said he hopes to have both guards back for Saturday’s matchup.
“I hope Saturday,” Calipari said of when Fredrick and Wheeler could return from injury. “Haven’t practiced (this week), and we won’t go with a live practice tomorrow (Thursday). And then Friday, you know, we’ll have to see.”
Actually, 14. Lance Ware also missed North Florida (illness) and LSU (shoulder). If you count Wallace leaving after eight minutes with the back issue against South Carolina, seven Kentucky players have missed multiple games with injury/illness/family emergency. https://t.co/sfXmQ9DZNS— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) February 16, 2023
As for how the injuries occurred, Fredrick cracked his ribs when he fell into a cameraman during the Florida game. He attempted to play through it against Arkansas but was ineffective. Wheeler twisted his ankle in practice last Monday and has been out ever since. He was seen wearing a walking boot prior to Wednesday’s game in Starkville.
Now 26 games into the season, the Cats have played about 14 games at full strength this season, and Calipari also brought that up.
“We make no excuses,” Calipari stated. “I mean, no one’s reporting (on it), so we might as well not talk about it, that we’re playing injured. And we’ve had guys out, one game in the league (South Carolina) we had two starters, Cason and Jacob out. Well, Cason played like seven, eight minutes, but he was hurt the whole time.”
With just five games remaining and a lot of Quad 1 opportunities to build a better NCAA Tournament resume, the Cats need to get back to full strength for this crucial stretch.