Three things to watch: UK-Eastern Michigan

Three things to watch tonight when Kentucky welcomes Eastern Michigan to Rupp Arena:

1. Alex Poythress. Or as Sea of Blue called it, The Alex Poythress Project. John Calipari is subjecting Poythress to personal workouts in an attempt to squeeze more out of the 6-foot-7 freshman. Poythress did not start last time out against Louisville and ended up playing just 15 minutes, far from his beastly performance against Duke early in the year. Calipari knows there is more there than the Tennessee native is showing, and the coach is determined to bring it out, one way or another. Cal said give the process two weeks. Kentucky fans are not that patient. They want to see improvement now.

2. Free throws. Kentucky somehow managed to miss more free throws (12) than it made (11) at the Yum Center on Saturday. That becomes a glaring statistic when you lose by three points on the home floor of the nation’s fourth-ranked team. The Cats missed four of their first five free throws in the first half. Then they missed five of their last six free throws over the game’s final five minutes. This has not been a good free throw-shooting team, anyway. The Cats have shot less than 70 percent at the line in nine of their 12 games. They need to hit those. There is a reason they call them free.

3. Letdown. The scoreboard says Kentucky lost at Louisville 80-77, but some fans are acting as if UK came out victorious given the way the Cats fought back from a 17-point deficit. Showing a competitive spirit was good and the game did feel like a step forward, but Kentucky can’t act as if it has arrived just because it played a highly ranked team close. Eastern Michigan is a huge underdog tonight, and the Cats needed to treat the MAC team as such with a convincing win.

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