No. 1 Kentucky’s ability to play ten players and not have to deal with a decrease in productivity is one reason why the Wildcats are seen as a favorite to win a national title. Unfortunately for the Wildcats they’ve had to deal with some health issues recently, as guards Tyler Ulis and Devon Booker sat out the team’s win over Columbia Wednesday night due to minor injuries.
According to a report Thursday night from Brian Milam of WKYT Lexington, another player has been hit by the injury bug. Junior forward Alex Poythress suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during practice Thursday, and the report was confirmed by Kentucky Friday morning.
“When you’re coaching other people’s children and these children have high aspirations and unlimited potential – not only to do things for themselves but for other people – I can’t begin to tell you the feeling when someone gets hurt,” head coach John Calipari said in the release. “My own son, Brad, tore his ACL last year. All I can tell you is I was physically sick when it happened to him. I feel exactly the same way now that it’s happened to Alex.”
Poythress started all eight games he’s played in this season, averaging 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game for the top-ranked Wildcats. His best offensive output this season came in the season-opening win over Grand Canyon, as Poythress scored nine points in 24 minutes of action.
Poythress may not be the best perimeter shooter, but he gave Kentucky good energy and defense at the three while on the court. As a result of Poythress’ injury does Calipari simply plug Derek Willis into that spot, or does he scrap the “platoon” concept altogether? Should that occur Kentucky would be able to go even bigger than they have at times, provided those options (Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles being two) prove themselves capable of defending on the wing.
Kentucky doesn’t lack for options, but the loss of Poythress still hurts this team moving forward.
“Our team was devastated for Alex when I told them,” Calipari said. “There were tears throughout the room because this hurt them to the core. How they will respond I really don’t know, but I will do my best to be there for each of these kids.
“I told them, this is a big blow to our team. No one will be able to replace Alex and what he did for this team. I go back to last year’s NCAA Tournament. Without Alex, we don’t win those games. No one will be able to replace him, but now everybody has to do a little bit more as we try to circle the wagons.”