3 Point Shot: Previewing UK’s final home game

Forward Derek Willis of the Kentucky Wildcats puts up a layup during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. on Thursday, February 18, 2016. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Josh Ellis

No. 22 UK (22-8, 12-5) v. LSU (18-12, 11-6)

Tipoff: Saturday, 2 p.m., Rupp Arena TV: ESPN Radio: UK Radio Network

Three points of emphasis for UK’s final home game of the season:

Tigers on the Bubble

After a three-game losing skid, the Tigers have bounced back and won two straight. Their hopes of making the NCAA Tournament are still slim, but a win over 22nd-ranked UK could put them in a much better position to make a run in the SEC Tournament next weekend. And don’t forget, LSU already upset the Cats by 18 points back in January.

Despite everything that’s on the line for LSU on Saturday, UK head coach John Calipari said it is just another game for the Cats.

“We’re going to play a desperate team, but I’m not worried about it because every team we play is desperate. Every single team, every night at home, on the road, is desperate,” Calipari said. “And they’re going to be desperate. It’s good for us. That’s what prepares us for March and that’s why our teams historically have played well in March. Because we never get an off night.”

Return of Derek Willis

Perhaps a littler earlier than most expected, Calipari told the media on Friday his 6-foot-9 forward would be back in the lineup Saturday, and might even get his starting job back. Willis has returned to practice this week and is now ready to step back on the court since his injury against Texas A&M.

“Oh yeah. I don’t think I’ll start him — I might, you know me,” Calipari said. “I don’t really care, but I doubt if I start him, but it was great yesterday having him out there.”

Keep an eye on how many minutes Willis gets in his first game back since Feb. 20, and the SEC and NCAA Tournaments right around the corner.

Poythress Senior Day

Yes, UK has seniors on its basketball team — and no, they’re not walk-ons. Senior Alex Poythress will be honored before tipoff on Saturday and will play his final home game in Rupp Arena. 

“It’s been a long ride. I’m just thankful to be playing the game, and just humbled to be in this situation,” Poythress said. “It’s been long, but it’s been great; some of the best memories of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

The Clarksville, Tennessee, native is excited about his last postseason run at UK. Poythress has been apart of UK teams that have made it to the National Championship and Final four, and said the team has the same goal this year. Expect No. 22 to go out with a bang.