UK basketball notes: Poythress embraces Calipari's criticism

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 16, 2012 

Kentucky's Alex Poythress (22) scored as Lafayette's Levi Giese (24) grabbed a handful of Nerlens Noel's shirt in the first half of the Lafayette at Kentucky basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Friday Nov. 16, 2012. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff

Freshman forward Alex Poythress welcomed being the focus of Kentucky Coach John Calipari's never-ceasing do-better demands.

"It just means he sees more out of me and thinks I can be better than I am," he said after UK's 101-49 victory over Lafayette Friday night.

Calipari had spoken repeatedly of Poythress' need to play with consistent effort. "I'm all over him ... because I want him to be the best version of him," Calipari said of Poythress. "Not just play good. 'You're better than this. You can do more than this.' "

Poythress scored 22 points, which marked a second straight game of 20 or more points. After three games, he leads UK in scoring (16.7 ppg). Yet, Calipari complained about his conditioning.

When asked if he had taken plays off, Poythress said, "I don't feel that way, but he does.

"He's the coach, so I'm just trying to listen to him and make a better effort out there. I know I'm in the wrong at times. He's just helping point that out. I'm taking it all as constructive criticism."

Teammates Archie Goodwin and Julius Mays tell him he doesn't realize how effective he can be, Poythress said.

"Archie and Julius will be saying I don't know how big I am, because I'll be bumping into them and stuff like that."

Poythress expected Calipari to push and prod him to play harder. It's part of being a Kentucky player, he said.

"You've got to be willing to sacrifice things," he said. "It's not going to be easy. And it's not easy. You gotta work hard every day. You have to work hard on your own every single day. Even on off days, we're working hard, trying to get in the gym and doing our little workout. So really there's no days off. Just grind hard every day."

Calipari's constant dissatisfaction about Poythress sounded familiar. He said much the same things about Terrence Jones the past two seasons.

"... Some of the coaches have been telling me that's how he was on Terrence. He just sees a lot in you, so he's going to get it out."

To be the subject of Calipari's dissatisfaction is a good thing, Poythress said.

When asked how much more he can produce, Poy-thress said, "Hopefully, there's a lot more."

Dunk you very much

With so many dunks, Kentucky could rate them.

Who is UK's best power dunker? "I'd probably say me," Poythress said.

Who is UK's best acrobatic dunker? "It's gotta be Archie," Poythress said. "Archie can go between the legs. All types of stuff like that."

Goodwin had the night's best dunk. He rose high for a fast-break dunk. Alas, Lafayette's Jack Detmer positioned himself to take a charge, thus nullifying the play.

"Ooooh, that was ridiculous," Poythress said of Goodwin's high-rising dunk that didn't count. "I didn't think it was a charge, by the way."

Lafayette point guard Tony Johnson was happy to say that Detmer was the player to take the charge. "Thank God that wasn't me," he said.

10 assists, 0 turnovers

Transfer Julius Mays had 10 assists and no turnovers.

"I think he just has a good feel for the game, from playing four or five years," Poy-thress said. "He just knows where you are. It's a good thing when he's out there."

Kyle Wiltjer, who led UK with 23 points, credited Mays with making passes that set him up for open shots.

"It was like him getting those shots," Wiltjer said.

But Mays needs to be more than a designated passer.

"He's a very smart player, but we need him to shoot the ball," Calipari said. "With Archie (Goodwin) and Julius and Kyle, and even Jarrod (Polson), who I'm not afraid if he pulls up for the three, we've got pretty good three-point shooters."

Opening attendance dips

The announced attendance of 21,360 marked the smallest crowd for a UK home opener in Calipari's four seasons as coach. It also was the third straight season that the attendance for the home opener decreased.

The last home opener with a smaller crowd was in 2007 when 20,335 saw UK beat Central Arkansas.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Email: Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog:

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