Alex Poythress is more focused on helping Kentucky finish games strong no matter how he's used, and the sophomore reserve forward emphatically proved it against Texas A&M.
Poythress scored a season-high 16 points as No. 14 Kentucky routed the Aggies 68-51 on Tuesday night.
Poythress and 7-foot freshman Dakari Johnson eagerly picked up the slack inside for Kentucky (14-4, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) with struggling 7-foot pivot man Willie Cauley-Stein limited by foul trouble. Poythress worked inside for baskets and got to the free throw line, hitting five straight during his 7-0 run that put the Wildcats up 44-33 with 14½ minutes remaining.
He was 4 of 7 from the field and had five rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes.
"All of his hard work, extra work, and how he has been practicing is paying off," freshman forward Julius Randle said. "I couldn't be more happy for him."
The game was Poythress' third double-digit scoring effort in his past five outings, demonstrating his new comfort zone coming off the bench after starting 31 of 33 games as a freshman. Though he's still trying to find a rhythm with his jumper, his energy and aggression have definitely improved after he passed on the NBA draft.
There's certainly no doubting Poythress' dedication and mindset.
"You get what you give," Poythress said. "If you don't work hard, bad things will happen. If you do work hard, good things will happen."
Johnson added seven rebounds, six points and a career-high three blocks as the Wildcats outrebounded the Aggies 42-24 and were nearly even with them in the paint (30-32). The rebounding was a huge improvement for Kentucky after being dominated on the glass in Saturday's win over Tennessee.
James Young added 15 points and seven rebounds while Randle had 13 points with 11 rebounds for Kentucky which shot 44 percent (22 of 50) from the field and was 18 of 27 at the free throw line. The Wildcats' bench outscored the Aggies 25-13 and 15-4 in second-chance points.