With its best defensive player hobbling to the locker room and the team down 13 points, the Kentucky Wildcats had a choice on Friday night with their postseason lives on the line: retreat or win it for Willie.
Willie Cauley-Stein, the anchor of UK’s defense, suffered a left ankle injury at the 13:05 mark of the Cats’ Sweet 16 game vs. Louisville. It’s unclear how Cauley-Stein injured his ankle, but after he limped off the court, down the tunnel and to the locker room on one foot, Cauley-Stein never returned to the game.
Instead of folding, the Wildcats (27-10) rallied back. When they saw him on the trainer’s table at halftime and learned he wouldn’t be back, they decided to win one for him.
“We were pretty sure that he wasn’t coming back at all,” Jarrod Polson said. “We all shook his hand and were all kind of saying, ‘We got this for you.’ ”
And win for him — 74-69 over archrival U of L — they did.
Walter Cornett, of Glendale, Kentucky, is the owner and operator of Walter’s Wildcat World. He founded WildcatWorld.com in 1998 making it one of the oldest Kentucky basketball fan sites in operation today.