Kentucky reverted in many ways on the basketball court Tuesday night, as they lost 85-65 to Alabama, their biggest margin of defeat at home since 1988. Before either team hit the court, however, UK suffered its biggest loss of the season in the death of former walk-on Ben Jordan.
UK Head Coach John Calipari brought Jordan in last season to be a “banger” in practice that would tougher up their interior play. Through his few months as a member of the team, he had a great impact not only on the practice court but in the locker room.
“It was a rough day today. It was an emotional day today,” Calipari said. “We’ve got four or five that will go to the viewing tomorrow that were friends, knew they could count on Ben. Ben was one of the nicest. Ben came in with one thing, I need you to help Nick (Richards). I need you to be physical. When I went to put him in games, he begged the coaches not to put him in. Tell coach not to put me in. This kid was only here to help the team. He had a great smile and a great way about him.”
Since only one player on this current squad played any real minutes for the Cats last season (Keion Brooks Jr.), the newcomers were not as aware of who Jordan was, but they still as a team got together throughout the day in mourning.
“I learned as soon as I woke up, and I think it’s been pretty emotional around the guys that were actually around Ben last year,” redshirt freshman Dontaie Allen said. “The players, at first, didn’t know because they didn’t know him, but since then it’s been pretty emotional. Everybody was trying to get together and just uplift one another.”
The team held a moment of silence before the game began last night in memory of Ben Jordan, and that led to some visible emotion from certain players including walk-on Riley Welch who he roomed with last year. This made it clear that even though the former walk-on was not a member of the squad very long, his teammates still shared a bond with him.
Next up, Kentucky will take their heavy hearts and try to get back on the winning track at Auburn on Saturday.