LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky basketball is hit hard by illness, and apparently it’s spreading. The players’ lodge and practice facility were professionally disinfected this week after 3 players missed Tuesday’s game against Georgia because of sickness.
Starting point guard De’Aaron Fox, key reserve Mychal Mulder and freshman forward Sacha Killeya-Jones all sat out that overtime victory. Mulder missed 4 games with an unspecified malady. Might there be more?
“I don’t know how many people we have sick, but the sickness is going through our team,” senior forward Derek Willis said before Friday’s practice. “Even away from the gym, I have friends that are getting sick, so it’s just one of those things that are going around. We had the lodge sanitized, all the stuff around here has been clean. So just taking that extra precaution, I guess.”
Mulder was seen walking into UK’s practice facility Friday with all his gear on and both ankles taped, so that was a positive sign. But assistant coach Joel Justus, standing in for John Calipari on the eve of a huge game at Florida, was vague and noncommittal about the sick players’ status.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats (18-4, 8-1 SEC) could use their star point guard and second-leading 3-point shooter against the 24th-ranked Gators (17-5, 7-2). The teams meet at 8:15 p.m. ET Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. ESPN’s College GameDay will be in town for the showdown.
The O’Connell Center has been a difficult place for UK to win over the years.
“We’re going through practice today. We’ll see where everybody is. Regardless of who plays, we’ll put our best team out there,” he said, noting that college basketball is a war of attrition this time of year and major injuries have struck other top programs. “For us, in the big picture, I think we’ve been generally lucky.”
Then he knocked on the wooden podium at which he stood.