The senior forward scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the No. 5 Wildcats improved to 8-1 on the season. Eight of his points came during a 17-4 run to close the game, coming just one shy of his career high. His rebounds matched his previous best effort.
"I thought Alex was outstanding in the second half," said UK coach John Calipari, who noted with the exception of two plays, Poyhress may have had a perfect night.
"I want the kid to be the best player in the country. That's what I want him to be. He's capable of that."
Kentucky placed four other players in double figures, including freshman guard Jamal Murray with 16, junior center Marcus Lee with 11, and 10 apiece from freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe and freshman forward Skal Labissiere. Lee also chipped in with eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
The Cats shot 55 percent from the field, aided by a whopping 58 points scored in the paint.
"They’re a good basketball team and not even close to reaching their ceiling right now," EKU coach Dan McHale said of the Cats. "They’re really not. So give them a lot of credit."
Eastern Kentucky (7-3) got 19 points from junior forward Javontae Hawkins, but the Colonels, who entered the game shooting 45 percent from 3-point range on the season, made only five of 18 attempts beyond the arc against UK's long, athletic defense. EKU shot 40 percent (26 of 65) overall.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from the UK victory...
Eastern closed within eight with 6:06 remaining in the game before a jumper and a 3-pointer by Murray got the Cats rolling on their decisive run to close the game. The long trey by Murray at the 4:36 mark (one of only four made by UK on the night) seemed to sap the Colonels of what remained from the fighting spirit they displayed for most of the game. EKU made just one field goal over the final seven minutes of play.
BY THE NUMBERS:
0 - Times EKU held the lead.
1st - UK starting lineup of the year featuring Tyler Ulis, Briscoe, Murray, Poythress and Labissiere.
8 - Assists for UK's Ulis.
16 - Consecutive baskets scored in the paint by UK to start the game.
88 - Season scoring high for UK.
3:42 - Time remaining in first half before the Cats' first non-layup, dunk or free throw points.
“I’ve been through everything. I’ve been through a rough year, an ACL injury and a lot of things don’t phase me. I’m just trying to get through adversity and keep on pushing.” -- UK forward Alex Poythress.
Kentucky returns to action Saturday at Rupp Arena against Arizona State. The Sun Devils (6-2) are coming off an impressive 67-54 win over No. 18 Texas A&M on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 3:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.