Kentucky's senior forward went 7-of-8 from the field and scored 20 points Friday in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament to help lead the Wildcats to an 85-59 win at Bridgestone Arena and continue his season-long torment of Alabama.
In three games against the Crimson Tide this year, Poythress has made 20 of 24 shots from the field, scored 59 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. The latest effort, including a 4-for-5 night from the 3-point arc, baffled even a guy who has seen a lot of high-level basketball in his career.
"We came into the game trying to minimize his success in the paint, and when he stepped out to 3, we wanted to contest him at 3, but we didn't expect him to shoot the ball like Jamal Murray," said Alabama coach Avery Johnson. "He had it going... He played like a star tonight."
"I thought Alex was outstanding," UK coach John Calipari said.
Second-seeded Kentucky (24-8, 13-5 SEC) also got 23 points from Murray, who hit five of his nine 3-point attempts. The Cats knocked down a season-high 13 of 22 shots from the arc and shot 55 percent overall.
Alabama (18-14, 8-10 SEC) got 20 points from Arthur Edwards and 18 from Retin Obasohan.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from UK's win...
Kentucky struggled to build a substantial lead over Alabama for most of the first half, but took a 37-27 lead into the locker room at the break. Back to back 3-pointers by UK point guard Tyler Ulis, who added 17 points, and a Ulis assist on a Murray 3-pointer gave the Cats an 18-point lead with 13:43 remaining. A 23-8 run down the stretch turned the final score into a blowout as UK was able to empty the bench in the closing minutes.
Poythress claims the honor yet again, giving UK the third major scoring option to complement Murray and Ulis that has made the Cats so dangerous at times this season. In some games it has been Derek Willis or Isaiah Briscoe. In others of late, Skal Labissiere. When UK gets that additional scoring threat to keep defenses honest, it has been extremely hard to beat.
BY THE NUMBERS:
7 - Points off the bench by UK junior guard Dominique Hawkins, half of the Cats' bench scoring for the night.
11 - Games in a row with 20-plus points for Murray, the longest streak at UK since Kevin Grevey had 12 in the 1974-75 season.
14-2 - UK's all-time record in the SEC Tournament against Alabama.
22-1 - The Cats' record when matching or beating the opponent on the glass. UK outrebounded Alabama 31-27.
32 - Consecutive games with a made 3-pointer by Murray, tying Tony Delk's school record.
"Every game I step on the court, I try to have a big game. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it don't, you know. But everybody was great offensively. We played a complete game." -- UK's Alex Poythress.
Kentucky will play the winner of Friday night's last quarterfinal game, Georgia versus South Carolina, on Saturday at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET. The Cats are 39-2 all-time in the SEC Tournament semifinals.