Alex Poythress’ left knee seemed no worse for wear Sunday after the Kentucky sophomore forward got buried at the bottom of the team’s dog pile a day earlier.
“My leg got caught underneath,” Poythress said Sunday. “It hurt for a little bit, but I’ll be fine.”
Poythress screamed at teammates to get off of him during the team’s raucous postgame celebration immediately after their 74-73 victory over Wisconsin. He iced his knee in the locker room immediately after the game.
Coach John Calipari dismissed concern about his team’s postgame celebration.
“I was going to go in the dog pile,” he said, “but my hip was bothering me so bad, I couldn’t jump on there. But I was ready to go in there, too.”
Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein conceded the obvious Sunday: He won’t play in the national title game. The sophomore missed the past two games with an injured left ankle, and Calipari had all but ruled out Cauley-Stein before Kentucky even arrived for the Final Four.
“It’s tough,” Cauley-Stein said Sunday. “It’s heartbreaking. The only thing I can really do is encourage the team and stay positive even though I can’t play. I still serve a purpose, uplifting people and staying in people’s ears and cheering.”
Cauley-Stein averaged 7.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. He injured his ankle in the team’s victory over Louisville.
Succeed and proceed
Calipari wants the “one-and-done” moniker to change to “succeed and proceed.” No matter what you call it, a Wildcats’ team full of freshmen is down to its last game together.
Four of Kentucky’s freshmen, including Plano Prestonwood’s Julius Randle, project as first-round NBA picks in June’s draft.
“It’s important to us [to win the national title],” freshman guard Andrew Harrison said. “We’re just going to try to play as hard as we can. We’re going to focus on [Monday]. We’re not worried about what’s going to happen after that.”
Calipari has had 17 players drafted into the NBA in the past five years with 13 going in the first round.
Randle grows up
Randle said he probably would have gone to college even if the NBA didn’t require players to wait a year after high school before entering the draft. The freshman forward is a likely lottery pick in June’s draft.
“A lot of people think they are ready, but in actuality, you are really not,” Randle said. “I am really happy that I chose to go to college and, first off, get that experience of being away from home. This year has been wonderful for me as far as maturity level and kind of growing me into a young man.”
Worthy of a kiss
Poythress had as big of an impact late in Saturday’s game against Wisconsin as anyone on Kentucky.
The sophomore forward was on the receiving end of an alley-oop dunk with 4:45 left to pull the Wildcats within two and then scored the go-ahead bucket a couple minutes later to push them ahead 71-69.
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan called a timeout after that, and cameras caught Calipari giving Poythress a kiss on the back of the neck coming to the bench.
“I kiss them all the time … not on the lips,” Calipari said, laughing. “They’re part of my family. This is more than teaching just basketball.”
Poythress is part of Kentucky’s deep bench, scoring eight points against the Badgers. Other key contributors include Marcus Lee, Dominique Hawkins and Jarrod Polson.
“Every one of them have been coached as though they’re starters, which means they should be ready when their chance comes,” Calipari said.