Cauley-Stein encourages Poythress to stay the course


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari hugs Kentucky Wildcats forward Alex Poythress (22) following the game between the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team and University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.,on Saturday, February 1, 2014. Kentucky defeated Missouri 84-79. Photo by Michael Reaves

By Kyle Arensdorf

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There was a somber mood to the Friday press conference as news of the knee injury to junior forward Alex Poythress broke earlier Friday morning.

Poythress has been ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in practice on Thursday.

Junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein, who’s especially close with Poythress, said practice came to a screeching halt after the injury and described the environment as “like if someone in your family died … it was just an eerie feeling.”

Cauley-Stein and Poythress were both teammates of former UK forward Nerlens Noel, who sustained the same injury two years ago in a game against Florida.

Cauley-Stein told the media Friday he’s taking comfort in the fact that Noel has recovered so well from his injury.

“That’s going to be really uplifting for (Poythress),” Cauley-Stein said. “Nowadays the ACL injury isn’t like what it used to be. You can come back better than what you were before. It’s just the timing of it, which is going to be the most frustrating.”

Poythress will be forced to take on a different role with the team now, a situation Cauley-Stein thinks he could relish.

UK will have to continue the season down one of its big men, something Cauley-Stein’s teammates had to do a season ago after he went down in the first half of the Cats second round matchup against Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.

He was able to offer advice from a point of view that not many others could, and encouraged Poythress to stay the course.

“It’s just having a good outlook on it,” Cauley-Stein said. “Things that I did were, I got a chance to kind of stop and really think about what I was trying to do. That’s something that is going to help him. You get that break, and it’s a mental break. You learn a lot about yourself going through the process.”