LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In perhaps the biggest game of the year, freshman forward Alex Poythress again disappointed.
"We have got to get Alex playing better," coach John Calipari said after Kentucky's 80-77 loss to Louisville Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center. "He's just not. He's going to have to earn minutes."
Poythress didn't earn them against Louisville, playing 15 minutes.
It wasn't because of foul trouble - he only picked up two of UK's 21 fouls.
"He just didn't do anything," Calipari said.
Poythress did something, scoring seven points on 2-of-4 field goal shooting and 2-of-6 free-throw shooting with five rebounds.
But that's not nearly enough for his coach, who has said in the past that Poythress (who is averaging 13.8 points and 6.4 rebounds) could be the key to UK unlocking its potential.
Calipari noted one play, late in the game, that embodied Poythress' current struggles.
"There was a rebound right there in front of the rim, that was his ball, and he kind of went after it but he didn't," Calipari said. "Instead of grabbing it and tip-dunking it so we can get back in the game, he let the other guy grab it."
Calipari immediately subbed him out.
"(He said), 'I tried,'" Calipari said. "I know, but he's trying harder than you, so you've got to sit."
On his website Sunday, Calipari wrote that he'll begin individual workouts with Poythress.
"All of us think Alex can be as good as anyone in the country," Calipari wrote. "It's my responsibility to get him to think that way and play that way for himself and his teammates so that we can all become the best versions of ourselves."
Julius Mays' shooting slump continued against Louisville.
The senior shot 1-for-8, including 1-for-6 from outside, in 35 minutes. Mays has made just 6-of-31 threes (19.4 percent) in his last six games.
"Julius Mays hasn't made a shot in about a month," Calipari said.
The rest of the team made 9-of-15 threes against the Cardinals, but Mays' struggles have played a part in making the Cats an inconsistent shooting team.
UK has shot 35 percent or worse from outside five times this year, largely due to slumps at various times from its two main shooters - Kyle Wiltjer and Mays, who account for 65.6 percent of UK's 3-point attempts this year.
Calipari said both players can shoot 40 percent from the 3-point line; Wiltjer has made 42.9 percent, while Mays has made 29.3 percent.
"If they are open, we have to find them, and we are still not there yet," Calipari said. "We get down a bit and our heads are down."
Calipari said he wants his guards to "find those two" when they don't have a play to make for themselves.
"I want to try and get somebody a jumper," Calipari said.
Goodwin halfway there
Archie Goodwin looked like two different players against Louisville.
He had three points on 1-of-4 shooting in 17 first-half minutes, then had 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 19 second-half minutes.
The difference, Calipari said, was shot selection.
"We are trying to get him to play better and attack for us," Calipari said. "If you can get to the rim, then fine. But when you are not getting to the rim, he still threw two or three balls through his body and to another guy. We are trying to eliminate that play. The other plays he made were outstanding."
Calipari noted that, while Goodwin did make two or three of those bad plays, he was making them "eight times a game" two weeks ago.
"So he is getting better," Calipari said.
Those out-of-control drives exhibit the same mentality that has caused him to turn the ball over a team-high 41 times this season.
He had five against Louisville as he struggled to handle the Cardinals' full-court pressue.
"Archie is still turning it over a little bit out of control," Calipari said, "but still made plays that we needed him to make."