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By LARRY VAUGHT
No matter what Alex Poythress does, John Calipari wants more. It was that way earlier this season when he became the first UK freshman since 1979 to score 20 or more points in four straight games and it’s certainly that way now that the freshman’s production has dipped slightly.
Against Marshall last week, he had nine points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes. Nerlens Noel had 12 points and 11 rebounds for his first UK double-double and was widely praised. Even though Poythress had only three less points and two less rebounds, he was not praised for his play.
” Look, Alex Poythress did some good things and then he reverted at times. (He) just grabbed a guy on a foul, wanted to stop playing, left his feet three times because he was late getting to the guy. Instead of being ready and in and then you can close with your hands up, or you can stand straight up and down, be late going to the shooter so you got to leave your feet, which he did three or four times,” Calipari said.
“But then again around the basket, rebounding the basketball, I think he had his career-high in rebounds. Think about some of the other teams we played where he was going against a 6’2″, 6’3″ guy and he couldn’t do what he did today.”
That’s why Calipari noted that his team’s potential could be rooted as much in Poythress as any player on the team.
“What about Alex Poythress? C’mon. Play the whole game the way you’re playing in spurts. Just do it. There’s no excuse why you stop on plays. Just quit playing when the ball is in play? There’s no excuse. How did you get beat to that rebound? It was you and the guy. How do you let him get it? Well, I don’t know. I know. He out-worked you. You weren’t ready to make that play,” Calipari said.
Saturday at Louisville, Poythress needs to be ready to make a lot of plays if UK hopes to be in position to pull the upset. But more importantly for the Wildcats, they need Poythress to be a huge factor inside in SEC play if they hope to beat Florida, Missouri and others to win another league title.