From beast (Alex Poythress) to least (Ottawa University), here are six takeaways from Kentucky's 117-58 exhibition victory Monday:
■ Poythress, the irreplaceable one, is at 80 percent.
UK Coach John Calipari continued to emphasize that Poythress can make a significant difference. His combination of size and athleticism was not fully on display (eight points, six rebounds, two blocks). But, as Calipari reminded reporters, Poythress is in the midst of a recovery from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"He's got to stay in practice, stay off the bike, and get into game shape," Calipari said. "Like, you saw him behind the action a bunch."
Calipari estimated Poythress at 80 percent of his pre-injury capabilities.
"I love the fact that the fans went crazy when he went in," Calipari said. "It lets him know we're all here for you. We want you to do well."
After saluting the contributions of five other players, Calipari added, "But who is your beast? You better have a beast. That's why I'm saying, we really need Alex to make strides now. ... He made some shots. Don't care. It's all energy. It's playing people before they catch it. It's being where you're supposed to be early. Staying in a stance. Flying up and down the court. Having unbelievable energy when you play. He doesn't have that right now."
■ Good shooting suggests UK can handle opponents' zone defenses.
The shorter shot clock, an emphasis on calling fouls on drives and Kentucky's abundance of talent suggest that opponents will play a lot of zone defense. So UK's continued good shooting, especially from three-point range, suggested that zones won't be a problem. The Cats made 12 of 22 three-point attempts against Ottawa. That after making 13 of 34 attempts in the Blue-White Game. That adds up to 44.6-percent accuracy.
Calipari offered a cautionary note about UK's shooting against Ottawa by reminding reporters that the visitors played man-to-man defense.
"The reason this team didn't play zone (is) because I asked them not to play zone," he said. "Because we don't really have much zone (offense) in right now. We worked 45 minutes on one (zone) offense two days ago. ... That's where we are right now. We're behind."
UK has had several sharpshooters from three-point range: Jamal Murray (seven of 16), Poythress (five of six), Tyler Ulis (four of nine), Derek Willis (two of four), Mychal Mulder (five of 14).
"We're good," Murray said. "We're all capable shooters. Not just the three (guards). But guys coming off the bench. Mike. Derek. We're getting Dom (Dominique Hawkins) back, too. Whatever the defense does to us, we have to play around it."
■ Derek Willis looked more confident on the floor and played with more confidence. He had 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes.
"I think he should be playing," Calipari said. "I was proud of him."
■ Isaac Humphries.
The freshman big man was busy around the basket (six rebounds) and shows a soft shooting touch from the baseline. More than once in the Blue-White Game, and then against Ottawa, he made baseline shots that required touch from a mid-distance range.
■ It's helpful when guards rebound.
With UK seemingly leaning toward a three-guard lineup, a relative lack of size might be a concern. The more guards rebound, the less the concern.
Against Ottawa, Murray had 12 rebounds, Ulis four and Briscoe three.
"If our guards rebound the way we did (against Ottawa), we'll be fine," Calipari said.
■ It would be too early to draw conclusions if Kentucky had played Duke on Monday night. To be frank, Ottawa offered little resistance. So the lack of competition must be factored into the good vibes coming out of the exhibition.
Or as Ottawa Coach Aaron Siebenthall put it, "We had a little stretch ... where we really boxed out. I mean all five guys boxed out. And it didn't matter. They're bigger, faster and stronger than us."