Kentucky gained an extra boost during Tuesday night’s 25-point thumping of Alabama. Senior forward Alex Poythress made his long-awaited return to the lineup.
Poythress was back in action after missing Kentucky’s last five games due to a knee injury sustained during Big Blue’s Feb. 2 loss to Tennessee. The big man contributed right away in his first game back, scoring 14 points in 17 minutes off the bench as Kentucky clobbered Alabama, 78-53. Coach John Calipari gave Poythress plenty of props after the game.
Cal to Alex Poythress: "Alex, what you did today, big time."
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 24, 2016
Poythress was impressive in his first game back. The question will be whether he can advance his game to the next level during the homestretch of his UK career. Poythress entered Tuesday night’s contest averaging a respectable 10 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, but Calipari said after the game that his senior can take his game to a different gear.
“When Alex is the best version of himself, he’s as good as any guy his size in the country,” Calipari said after the game. “But he’s got to come everyday and be that guy. Today, he played without having played for two, three weeks. He was close to it for spurts and now it’s like ‘OK it’s time to finish.’”
If the Wildcats expect to make another run to the Final Four, they will need more contributions in the frontcourt from players such as Poythress to supplement their backcourt tandem of Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray. Kentucky has played its best basketball as of late during the closing weeks of the regular season. But Poythress could help take Big Blue to the next, and perhaps expected level.
The next level could allow Poythress to end his Kentucky career on top.
“We got to have somebody we throw it to in the post, it might as well be me,” Poythress said according to The Courier-Journal’s Kyle Tucker.