The mere mention of his performance against Duke three years ago brought a smile to Alex Poythress’s face.
“I’m looking forward to playing the game,” he said after Kentucky beat New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturday.
Kentucky plays Duke on Tuesday night in the Champions Classic. It was in that event three years ago that Poythress flashed his unusual combination of size and athleticism. He scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
But mere numbers do not fully explain his performance. More than once, he rose above the traffic in the lane and one-handed offensive rebounds through the rim in take-that fashion.
Coaches, including UK’s John Calipari, do not like one-handed rebounds. But exceptions can be made.
Poythress has rarely looked like the same player, which suggests that competing against Duke inspired him to new heights, literally as well as figuratively.
“Of course, everybody is going to be amped and hyped to play Duke,” Poythress said.