Without the 6-foot-11 sophomore in the lineup, the Cardinals struggled on the boards, getting out-rebounded 32-26 by the Knights. In Padgett's place, 6-foot-10 sophomore Terrance Farley had just 2 points and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes.
"Padgett's going to make a big difference because he's an offensive threat," Pitino said. "We got nothing out of the five spot tonight in terms of execution. So he'll make a big difference and he'll be back (Thursday).
Padgett will return to practice Thursday full-time and appears to be at or near 100 percent after fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot September 19. His return figures to provide the Cardinals a major boost as they prepare for the Nov. 19 season-opener against Tennessee-Martin.
Padgett dressed but did not play
Wednesday night against Bellarmine.
Padgett said his foot is doing well, noting that his return has come sooner than initially thought.
"It feels really good," said Padgett. "I'm actually a little bit ahead of schedule, and I'm very pleased with where I am. Everything is going great."
After sitting out last season after transferring from Kansas, Padgett sounds anxious to get back on the court.
"I can't wait," Padgett said. "The regular season starts in a few weeks and it counts. So we've got to be ready for that."