UPDATE: UK spokesman confirms SEC Country report that Killeya-Jones did not make the trip to Texas A&M so he could attend his grandfather’s funeral Saturday.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M has maybe the most formidable frontcourt in the SEC, and Kentucky will face the Aggies’ big men Saturday without 6-foot-10 sophomore Sacha Killeya-Jones. He did not make the trip with the Wildcats because he is attending his paternal grandfather’s funeral, two sources confirmed to SEC Country.
Killeya-Jones has been honoring Raymond “Pop Pop” Jones with messages on his sneakers during UK’s last three games. Jones passed away on Jan. 30, the night the Cats beat Vanderbilt in overtime.
“My grandfather was really big for me growing up. He was always there for me, one of my biggest fans, and I learned a lot from him,” Killeya-Jones said. “He was a really important person in my life, and he passed a couple nights ago, so it was big for me to try to do something just to honor him and bring him on the court with me.”
The former McDonald’s All-American has been a key contributor off the bench this season. He’s averaged 14.9 minutes but 10.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per 40 minutes — and is shooting 60 percent from the field. He had 4 points and 5 rebounds in UK’s 1-point win over the Aggies in January.
Texas A&M’s starting frontcourt features 6-9 DJ Hogg, 6-10 Robert Williams (a projected NBA lottery pick) and 6-10 Tyler Davis, who combined for 42 points and 17 rebounds in the first meeting with Kentucky, plus 6-10 sixth man Tony Troche-Morelos. Kentucky is already without suspended (and injured) 6-10 sophomore Tai Wynyard, leaving freshman 7-footer Nick Richards as the Cats’ only available player taller than 6-9.
Kentucky (17-7, 6-5 SEC) is trying to avoid the first three-game losing streak in nine seasons under coach John Calipari. The Aggies (16-8, 5-6) lost their first five conference games but have won five of six in league play.