LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - How far Kentucky advances in this weeks SEC tournament and if they get in the NCAA tournament could depend greatly on the play of freshman forward Alex Poythress.
He has been the most inconsistent and enigmatic of the young Cats.
Great in flashes, inconsistent in others, and totally absent in some. After opening the season with four 20 point scoring efforts in UK's first five games, he's only scored 20 or more in two of the last 26 games.
"I mean with Alex, it's in spurts. He'll play like a beast in spurts and then, I don't know what happens, and he's not a beast no more," fellow freshman Willie Cauley-Stein said.
Kyle Wiltjer added, "He can be amazing and we just have to get him playing like that every minute of the game."
Poythress responded in Saturdays win over Florida. After being confronted by Julius Mays, he finished out a 9 point, 12 rebound effort.
"He was just saying come on, we need you, just pick it up, you can't fall asleep out there, you're better than this, it was just kind of a wake up call," Poythress said.
"There was one spell that he gave up," John Calipari said after that game, "He's done that throughout the year, this was the first game he did that, took him out, his teammates got all over him, and he said, "Put me back in," he grew up today. He went back in and finished those last seven minutes and was a beast."
Cauley-Stein isn't quite ready to buy in, saying, "I don't feel like Alex knows yet. Coach says you mature at different rates and I feel like he's just taking longer to mature. Alex is a great kid, he's not bad or anything, it's just whether he wants to mature faster, and listen and do what Coach is telling him to do. It's all up to Alex."
"I think there are some guys in there that Willie doesn't trust," Calipari said on Tuesday. "When they don't feel like playing, they don't play, and we have a little bit of that."
Poythress gets his next chance to impress his teammates on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Nashville, Tennessee. You'll see the Cats SEC tournament opener live on WAVE 3.
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