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Early in the first half of Tuesday’s win over South Carolina, Alex Poythress went to the bench. Coach John Calipari followed the same pattern in the second half. Unless the UK coach has changed his mind since Tuesday, the first-half scenario is likely to happen again Saturday when UK hosts Auburn.
“The first half we’re going to do that. He’s going to play the first three (minutes), and that’s about the extent that he can sustain,” said Calipari. “Second half, you miss two dunks, you’re out. What’s wrong? You tell me you’re tired? Your leg hurts, your toenails? What is it? You missed two dunks. You’ve got to come out. I’m not being mean about it, it’s just what it is. I’m just holding him accountable. We’re up 20 (points), play. We’re not that kind of team. We’ve got to ball.”
Calipari did concede that Poythress showed “unbelievable hustle” on one transition play. He just wants to see that type of effort more often from his freshman forward.
“He can do it. It’s just that sustaining it. The thing these guys are struggling with, a guy makes a mistake, he can’t get over it. He’s embarrassed. So now he goes back on defense and he’s still thinking about the shot he missed, the turnover. He can’t play down on the other end, and it’s not just Alex. It’s a bunch of the guys,” Calipari said. “I keep telling them, if you make a mistake or miss a shot, your thought is I’m getting it back on the other end. You push that right in your mind. I’m going to get it back on this end. I’m going to get it back on this end, I’m going to get it back on this end. These are 17- and 18-year-old kids. They’re like, I can’t believe I did that. Oh, I should have rebounded that ball, and that’s where we are right now.”