The biggest story in Lexington all week was Kentucky’s controversial loss to Texas A&M over the weekend. John Calipari has been fast to pivot attention away from Isaac Humphries’ technical foul and on to the other areas where the Wildcats could have been a little better to avoid the frustrating setback down the stretch. Facing Alabama, the surprise of the SEC, on Tuesday provided a great opportunity to get right against a quality opponent.
Alex Poythress was questionable coming into the night making his return from a knee injury but great once he hit in the floor. He contributed to a great all-around 78-53 home win against the Tide. Derek Willis did not play and may not play for a while after suffering an ankle injury in the loss to Texas A&M.
Tyler Ulis spoke glowingly of Poythress’ addition to the lineup after the game, and how the whole team has responded to Calipari’s “next man up” charge.
“It’s next man up. Cal always talks about that,” Ulis told ESPN. “When Alex [Poythress] went down Isaac [Humphries] stepped up. Everybody’s coming in, doing their part. Alex came in today, it’s everybody doing their job.”
While Poythress’ return was a headline, Ulis remained the star. The sophomore is making a case as one of the best guards in the country. Against Alabama he recorded 19 points, 10 assists (his sixth double-double), five rebounds, three steals and just one turnover.
He even pulled off a play shoeless, and when your name rhymes with shoeless and you lose a shoe the Internet is going to roll with it.
Lace ’em up tight this half, Tyler. You were good with one shoe, but we prefer you keep them both on. #ShoelessUlis pic.twitter.com/gBmsDBcINE
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 24, 2016
Freshman and birthday boy Jamal Murray led Kentucky with 23 points and Isaiah Briscoe added 10 points to give the Wildcats four players in double figures.
Alabama doesn’t suffer too much of a set back here in terms of its NCAA Tournament profile. The Tide’s postseason future will be determined in the games left in the regular season (Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia) and SEC tournament performance.