A helping of Kentucky basketball leftovers

Some leftovers from UK’s win last night.

– Willie Cauley-Stein continues to improve and impress. The 7-foot freshman turned in his second double-double of the season last night. The Kansas native had 11 points and 11 rebounds after finishing the first half with seven points and seven boards. His most impressive play of the night was his impressive stretch — using his wide receiver wingspan — to go up and get a high Ryan Harrow lob and slam it home.

UK coach John Calipari started Cauley-Stein for the second straight game and said he liked the “big” lineup of Cauley-Stein, Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress. And after missing all four of his “official” free throw attempts at Louisville, the freshman missed his first shot from the foul line on Wednesday, but made the second.

“It was a crier,” said Calipari, “but it went in.”

– Alex Poythress is just not a demonstrative young man. He’s just not. His interviews with the media are filled with short, colorless answers for the most part. He doesn’t seem to be comfortable talking about himself, though I did notice a bit of chafing last night when the freshman was continually asked about expectations and his individual workouts with Calipari.

It has to be a tough situation for a kid who was a star in high school and the AAU circuit to come to the fishbowl and have a large fan base debate his every move, his every shot, his every rebound. When asked about pressure, Poythress said there is pressure on every player at UK. That’s true, but some more than others.

And you don’t have to be demonstrative to be a good basketball player. Just because, as Julius Mays said, Poythress is the “only guy I know who could dunk on somebody and run back down court with his head down,” that doesn’t mean his potential will go unfufilled. He can still be silent, but deadly.

– Lost in the midst of Cauley-Stein’s double-double and Poythress’ progress was the fact that Noel grabbed 13 rebounds as Kentucky outrebounded the poor Eagles 52-27. Kentucky also had a 40-16 point advantage in the paint. Noel was three short of his career-high of 16 rebounds against Baylor.

– Julius Mays had taken 15 three-point shots in his last three games. He had made one. Last night, the sophomore took seven, and made three. That was good for Mays, happy to see some shots finally going in the basket. But Calipari said he doesn’t care.

“His shooting doesn’t hurt us,” said the coach, explaining that if Mays does all the other things he needs to do on the floor, his points are a bonus.

For his part, Mays said he was happy to finally find the target, but, “I didn’t come here to score points. I came here to win games.”

– Kentucky started four freshmen last night, a point that was not lost on Calipari. He wanted to know if any other team in America starts four freshmen. That’s doubtful.

– The Cats led by as many as 57 points last night.

– UK made 18 of 24 free throws after making just 11 of 23 against Louisville. A twitter follower made a good point last night in that Louisville’s full-court press forced the Cats to run up and down the floor all game. That might have had an affect on UK at the foul line. Eastern Michigan played a 2-3 zone — head coach Rob Murphy was an assistant under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse — and more of a slow-down game against the Cats. Or at least the Eagles tried to slow the game down.

– It got little play, but Kyle Wiltjer led the Cats with 17 points.

– Kentucky’s next opponent, Vanderbilt, suffered mass graduation and defections from the team that knocked off the Cats in the finals of last year’s SEC Tournament. Vandy beat William and Mary 64-40 last night to even its record at 6-6. The Commodores lost 68-49 to visiting Butler on Saturday. Sophomore guard Kedren Johnson leads the Commodores in scoring, averaging 16.6 points per game.

– By the way, Vandy gets an eight-day break before playing UK on Jan. 10 in Nashville, just as the Cats are off until the trip to Memorial Gym.

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