Kentucky Wildcats dominate Alabama in Alex Poythress' strong return to court

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A couple of weeks rest and a matchup with Alabama proved to be the perfect remedy for Kentucky's Alex Poythress.

The Wildcats' senior forward, who had missed the last five games with swelling in a knee, made his return to the court Tuesday night at Rupp Arena, scoring 14 points off the bench to help lead No. 16 Kentucky to a 78-53 blowout of the Crimson Tide.

It was Poythress' second strong showing against Alabama this season. He had 25 points and seven rebounds in the Cats' 77-61 win on January 9 in Tuscaloosa.

"I was really proud of him," UK head coach John Calipari said. "He could have stayed out a couple more days. He knew the team needed him. He was sick over (the overtime loss at) Texas A&M. He felt like, I probably could have gone in and helped. But he just wasn't quite there. So to have one day to practice, to do what he did, amazing. He looked comfortable. He took himself in and out. So he was good. He was good."

Poythress was 5-of-6 from the field and looked typically strong on defense in only 17 minutes of action.

"It just felt really good to be out there again, to be playing, contributing to the team," Poythress said.

Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis, who had another strong performance himself with 19 points, 10 assists and three steals, said getting Poythress back is a big key to the Wildcats (21-7, 11-4 SEC) trying to claim an SEC championship and get prepared for March Madness.

“Very important because that gives us a post presence," Ulis said. "Throwing the ball down to the him tonight helped us out a lot especially when (Alabama) went zone or throwing it to the middle and him getting buckets.”

On this night, the Wildcats simply had too many weapons for Alabama (16-11, 7-8 SEC). The Crimson Tide got a game-high 29 points from senior guard Retin Obasohan, who was 9-for-13 from the field, but the rest of the team combined to go 8-for-35.

In addition to Poythress and Ulis, Kentucky also got 23 points from freshman guard Jamal Murray and a 12-rebound game from junior center Marcus Lee. UK played without junior forward Derek Willis, who suffered a badly sprained ankle in Saturday's loss at Texas A&M.

https://twitter.com/KentuckyMBB/status/702498585636708352

In this AW "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from the UK blowout...

KEY MOMENT:

Kentucky led 33-21 at the half, but used a 12-1 run early in the second period to blow the game open. The spurt included six points from Murray and four by Isaiah Briscoe, who finished with 10 on the night to give the Cats four players in double figures.

BY THE NUMBERS:

4 - Assists for Kentucky, a season low. Ulis committed just one in 36 minutes at the point.

5th - Ten-assist game for Ulis, breaking the school record of four shared by Kyle Macy (1977-78), Roger Harden (1985-86) and John Wall (2009-10).

6 - Offensive rebounds for Alabama after UK surrendered 20 to Texas A&M in the previous game. The Cats won the battle of the boards 41-29.

7 - Straight games over 20 points for UK's Murray, the longest streak since Jodie Meeks in 2008-09.

18 - Straight games in which a UK player has tallied 20 or more points.

36 - Game home win streak for UK, the second-longest active streak in the nation. The Cats are 118-4 under Calipari at Rupp Arena.

QUOTABLE:

"He’s a pro. He can play on the professional level. He’s probably better than a lot of the guys who are there now. He’s good, man. He can do everything. Now when I was playing in the NBA, there was guys like Spud Webb and Muggsy Bogues, but you know he is much better than those guys were offensively. And boy, he’s a pure point guard who can hold his own. He takes charges. He throws his body. What does he weight, about 160? Wet, maybe? (crowd laughter) So, he gets his body in there. As a coach you don’t like playing against him, but I see a lot of the things I did as a player in him. He’ll probably have a long, long career.” -- Alabama coach Avery Johnson, a former NBA player and coach, on the future potential of UK's Tyler Ulis.

UP NEXT:

Kentucky returns to action Saturday at Vanderbilt in a 4 p.m. ET tipoff on CBS. The Commodores (17-11, 9-6 SEC) recorded an 87-74 win on Tuesday night at Florida.


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