By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky freshman Alex Poythress had no problem with the aggressive style Morehead State and Long Island-Brooklyn both used against UK last week.
“You want teams coming at you. You don’t want no easy games. You don’t want no cakewalk game early. You just don’t want to breeze through your schedule,” said Poythress, the first UK freshman to have four straight 20-point games since 1979. “You want some tough opponents and people that will challenge you early. I think that is what all our opponents have done.”
He’s sure it will happen again Thursday, too, when UK plays at Notre Dame (6-1) in its first true road game of the season.
“It is going to be our first road test and we have to come prepared. We have to get off to a great start and not have slow starts like we have been having. I think we should be fine. We have couple days to prepare, so we should be ready,” he said after Friday’s win over Long Island-Brooklyn. “I know I am anxious to see how the Notre Dame fans react and what they have to say to us. It should be a pretty nice environment.”
Kentucky had trouble shutting down both Morehead and Long Island in the first half last week. Against Long Island, UK went on a big scoring run to end the first half and dominated the second half to win 104-75.
“We just tried to buckle down in the second half. They were hitting too many shots. I think they were hitting around 60 percent from the field and that is unacceptable here,” Poythress said. “We just made sure that we were blocking out and grabbing the board and that everybody was rebounding on the defensive end.
“We were just battling. It should not have been that close at halftime. Once we turned up the defense, we were fine.”
He’s not sure there is a specific reason for UK’s slow starts defensively.
“I don’t think there is no reason. Just getting used to the game play really. He (John Calipari) just keeps coaching us hard to we realize we have to get it going from the start,” Poythress said.
Calipari continues to insist that his freshman-dominated team is “just learning” as it plays.
“That’s why we wanted to play these kind of teams that would come after us, not be afraid, come in here with an attitude that they could win,” Calipari said Friday. “Then the way we’ve been starting these games, whether I got the wrong starting unit in there I don’t know, but the way we’ve been starting these games, we let these people think they can beat us. They go in at halftime saying, ‘We can beat these guys.’ So we’re learning that right now.”