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Skal Be Sure

Skal and the Cats had LSU's Ben Simmons whining when the game was over. Photo credit: ukathletics.com

Skal and the Cats had LSU's Ben Simmons whining when the game was over. Photo credit: ukathletics.com

Skal and the Cats had LSU’s Ben Simmons (25) whining when the game was over. Photo credit: ukathletics.com

 

The Kentucky Wildcats dismantled the LSU Tigers 94-77 and  finished the regular season with a 13-5 conference record, which tied them with Texas A & M. They earned a share of the SEC title, upping their total to 47. The afternoon started with Alex Poythress being the center of attention and rightfully so. He’s the lone senior on the team, and it was Senior Day.

We know how UK does Senior Day.

Add in all of the things that Alex has been through during the course of his four years at Kentucky, and you can see why the team and the fans were so reflective.

Alex Poythress deserved every bit of the adulation he received. It was good to see him cap off his career at Rupp Arena in a good way. He went 6-7 from the field (12 points, 3 boards, one assist and one steal) and repeatedly kept himself in good position to receive dimes from Tyler Ulis and make quick explosive runs to the rim.

The overwhelming story of the game was again Skal Labissiere playing well. He followed up a near double-double at Florida (11 points, 8 rebounds) with 18 points, nine rebounds and six blocks.

Yes, six blocked shots!

His performance, along with the rest of the team as a whole, had LSU’s star freshman Ben Simmons dishing up a whole lot of sour grapes when the game was over.

When you compare and contrast the last two games Skal has played with the immense struggles he had for most of the season, it is truly a night and day difference.

Skal, Al, night and day, Nite and Day. Y’all see what I did there?

Skal changes the dynamic of the entire Kentucky team. His effort, along with the rest of the Kentucky bigs once again allowed them to post gaudy numbers collectively against LSU (they combined for 50 points, 23 rebounds and 6 blocks).

He had the jumper working. He was ready to shoot as soon as he caught it. He was brimming with confidence, had a nice rhythm and was completely in the flow of the game.

One time, he kind of had his back to the basket and had his initial move thwarted by an LSU defender. Did he panic or turn the ball over? No, he simply countered and spun the other way and knocked down a nice jump hook over his left shoulder.

The six blocked shots and presence at the rim is just as vital for him personally as it is for the team as they enter March Madness.

If we had never seen this from Skal, it would simply be what it would be. If this is his ceiling, then it is still good to see him bounce back from all of the struggles and confidence issues that hindered him from playing his game. If he’s just scratching the surface (Kenny Payne said he could have been doing this a month ago in his post game interview with Tom Leach), then it will be a treat to watch him grow going forward.

No matter how you slice it, it’s good to see the light switching on for him right now.

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