Kentucky 78, Alabama 53: Avery Johnson convinced Tyler Ulis can be a pro

By LARRY VAUGHT

Tyler Ulis had another double-double against Alabama. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Tyler Ulis had another double-double against Alabama. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Not having Derek Willis turned out not to be much of a problem for Kentucky here Tuesday night because it got an unexpected boost from Alex Poythress.

Willis twisted an ankle in Saturday’s overtime loss at Texas A&M and no timetable has been set for his return. But Poythress, who had missed five games with a knee injury, had 14 points in 17 minutes in the 78-53 win. He had 25 points in UK’s win at Alabama earlier this season.

Alabama coach Avery Johnson expected Poythress to play and said he gave the Cats energy.

“He is just a tough guy to cover inside. He is quick for our big guys. You are talking about a guy if not injured (last season) he probably would not be in building this year (but in the NBA),” Johnson, a former NBA player and coach, said. “He is a tough guy. But at end of the day what does it come down to — Tyler Ulis getting him the ball. He is a coach’s dream. His double-double speaks volumes.”

Of course, Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis were … Murray and Ulis. Murray had 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field and 7-for-8 at the foul line to go with four rebounds, two blocks and one steal on his birthday. Ulis was just 5-for-13 from the field and did not make a 3-pointer, but he was 9-for-11 at the foul line and had 19 points, 10 assists and three steals. Ulis played 36 minutes and Murray 37.

Johnson came away even more impressed with Ulis.

“He is a pro. He can play on the professional level. He is probably better than a lot of guys there. He is good. He can do everything,” Johnson said. “He is a pure point guard that can hold his own. He takes charges. He throws his body in there. As a coach you don’t like coaching against him. I see lot of things I did as a player in him.”

Alabama was just 17 of 48 from the field — 35.4 percent — and if not for Retin Obasohan going 9-for-13 from the field to score 29 points the Tide was 8-for-35 from the field.

“Kentucky was on top of their game. They played well. Ulis and Murray are hard to handle,” Johnson said. “We had one guy who tried to do his best to be competitive, but basically it was two against one.

“They were the aggressor. We just did not have the energy and confidence we have had through SEC play. Give them credit. They had that fire in their eyes. They were one step faster than us, they jumped out about two steps higher. Kentucky was just that much better than us.”

Kentucky also had just four turnovers compared to 12 for Alabama. The Cats were just 2-for-10 from 3-point range but made 22 of 28 free throws. Kentucky had 40 points in the paint and averaged 1.238 points per possession.

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  1. Welcome back Sir Alex…..great game, and I hope many more to follow. A great game by all and it would have been fun to have been there. Skal still getting the minutes he has earned. I hope we can find a way to get Hump more shots at the rim. Think he took 3 outside jumpers and didn’t looked to good doing so. You have to like his presence in the post and, hopefully, he can find a way to defend without fouling. Briscoe continues his shooting with with a 4-11 stat. Does anyone remember when the last time was that we had a guard with as bad a shooting %? No updates on Willis lately.

  2. I watched the highlights after the game. You think you know Tyler Ulis by just watching the games….you need to watch highlights, it gives you a more close up view of what the kid does. There are not enough words to describe his play. It amazes me how he reads the court, knows where is guys are and how he sets up plays and makes his men look better. He is a true PG and they need to put his picture in the dictionary next to the explanation. You don’t expect an PG to have the points he does after a game, but then you remember the assists he has the the points his men score. He’s not stealing baskets from them, he is a play maker, a complete player how has the team #1 in his psyche. I have watched 3 other PG’s in my life whom I liked as much…Pistol Pete an d Lil Louie both as college and pro and Magic as a pro. Tyler is just as good as any one of them. He’s not flashy like Pete but he reads the floor as well as he did. Tyler’s basketball IQ surpasses anyone I have ever seen play, includ8ing John Wall. I hope the future will be kind to him, I would love to see him play one more year for UK but I don’t think that is going to happen. When Tyler’s playing time is over, he is going to be a HOF coach. Tyler is amazing, absolutely freaking amazing.

    1. The only player in the last 50 years that I think plays smarter at the point is Rondo. He does a lot of the things Ulis does with the quick change of direction to freeze defenders then pick up where the defenders made a mistake and get the ball to the open guy. Rondo has had an incredible run of assists in the NBA. He is no shooter though. Ulis is. And he isn’t the defender Ulis is either. But he is smart. And if I had to choose between the two with both in their prime for college or pro it would be Ulis.

      1. And Rondo reminds me of Pete and Pete was a shooter too. Always said Rondo reminded me of him, and Wall reminds me of Rondo.

    2. I agree Linda…6/8 years in the NBA….Maybe a future UK Basketball AC, then Head Coach !

      1. That may be a little stretch…HC possibly but who know about recruiting ability.

        1. Tyler would recruit and get the best Guards in the Country, He’d stay close to Coach Cal, who will always be apart of this Program, ala,(Joe B Hall)…And then Tyler, would explain to the other top prospects how lucky they’ll be to have these Guards, ” enhancing Their Skill set.” Recruiting, watch how he talks to His Team, look at these Recruits hanging on every word….It’s an Art and Ulis, is a Master…actually given His Youth, He is truly gifted, with many Leadership Skills…not just Basketball. peace

  3. I really like this team. I am actually enjoying this more than last years team. This seems to me more like an actual traditional college team.. Struggle , win struggle win. Yes I loved last years team , but with a team like that, nothing less than a championship is expected. They have grown and learned and gotten better. And they compete hard. I hope Briscoe doesn’t have the green light for jump shots in close games. Ouch he is bad. Anything father than a layup is to far for him.

    1. I love Briscoe. He plays super tough defense and rebounds like Mike Pratt. But shooting jumpers is not his strong point for sure. I’ve taken to calling him “Bricko” at times. 🙂 I hear Cal saying he makes shots in practice. Maybe he will get it together yet. I hope so. He plays hard and is an asset to the team. He can drive and shoot very well too.

      1. He’ll be here next year to improve on His Shot…But, his does have that dribble drive down.

  4. There aren’t enough words to describe Tyler’s personality, character, leadership, and overall value to this team and university. His inside jump shot and free throw shooting are about as automatic as it gets. Odds are probably against his returning next year, but if he does we would have to have the inside track at hanging another banner. I am still astonished that Cal continues to green light Briscoe’s outside shooting. He appears to be having more problems at the rim than earlier in the year also. It would be nice if we could get more of a contribution out of Matthews if we are going to make a good post season run. It looks like we are going to have our work cut out for us Saturday night in Nashville as Damien had a career night tonight and they seem to be finally getting it together.

  5. I will just agree with everything said about Ulis. I like all the comparisons also. I will add that I think Rondo let the league in steals one year (notice I said think). Great game to relax and enjoy.

    1. led

  6. I’m I the only one who see Mike Phillips moves, (for sure on D) in Humphries ? King G, what do you say.

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