Poythress shines in second half against LSU on Senior Day

Forward Alex Poythress of the Kentucky Wildcats drives int the lane during the game against the LSU Tigers at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday, March 5, 2016. UK defeated LSU 94-77 to finish the season 23-8. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Near the 10-minute mark in the first half against LSU, Alex Poythress was forced to sit and watch for the rest of the half after drawing his second foul.

Two points and one rebound was all he had to show for his first half on what was supposed to be his day, Senior Day in Rupp Arena.

Twenty-five scholarship players have come and gone since John Calipari started coaching the Cats, and Poythress is the first to stick around for four years and make it to his senior day.

“But our fans are the best. And you know what, they love senior night in this state,” head coach John Calipari said. “It’s a big deal.”

With a career full of ups and downs, Poythress could have easily accepted his role outside the spotlight and let one of his teammates or one of the Tigers steal the show on his day.

That might have been what many fans expected, as the game would have then resembled his first effort against the Tigers this season in Baton Rogue when he finished with four points, four rebounds and fouled out in the loss.

Instead, Poythress came out of the locker room and played like a guy that knew he only had 20 minutes left to play in his career in front of the home crowd.

“For the first time, he struggled early, and he changed it. And then he became a beast,” Calipari said. “I told him that was a big breakthrough for him.”

It wasn’t the 25-point outburst at Alabama this season where he dominated in the post, or even the 20-point put-back dunk display he had against Duke his freshman year, his 12 points were something special for all who watched.

It all started when Poythress caught the ball outside the paint and ripped through two defenders for a two-hand dunk. 

Poythress proceeded to go 5-for-5 from the field in the second half as UK would end up beating LSU in a 94-77 rout. Four of the makes were characteristically dunks, including an impressive one-handed dunk on a baseline cut.

In the end, it’s only fitting that his final game mirrors the up-and-down trajectory of his career at UK.

“It was a great feeling,” Poythress said. “These are some of the memories I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life. So, I am just happy to be a part of it.”