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Isaac Humphries credits mom for breakout; Is it time to play him more?

Playing Isaac Humphries more isn't as simple as you may think, but he's certainly earned more playing time.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

One of the biggest stories to come out of Saturday's demolition of Florida was how Kentucky got a boost from Isaac Humphries due to Alex Poythress' injury.

Humphries came in after playing rarely over the past two months, but a surprise subtraction of Alex due to a lingering knee injury led to the 7-foot freshman getting 15 minutes of action vs the Gators. That was the most PT he got since the UCLA game and just the third time in the past 15 games Isaac played at least seven minutes.

Not playing much amid UK's struggles hurt Humphries' confidence over the course of his first collegiate season, but a pep talk from mama Humphries helped keep his mind right.

"It wasn’t that bad, but mom being mom, she knows when something is a little wrong at home," Humphries said following Saturday's game. "So she really drilled me and she just said, ‘Snap out of it. You’ll be fine. You’re young. When you get your chance go for it.’"

With Poythress out and Skal continuing to struggle, Humphries checked in the first half and helped stop Florida from dominating the boards like they were much of the first half. He didn't light up the box score, but he did all of the little things UK bigs haven't done enough of this season.

"I was on a mission to prove myself out there, so I think I did well," Humphries said.

He boxed out, batted missed shots back out to teammates, blocked some shots and affected several others while simply holding his ground in the paint.

It was enough to earn praise from John Calipari after the game.

"I walked in and laughed and said, ‘Isaac, you’ve got your chance. Here it is. Go have fun,’" Calipari said. "And he did. I was happy for him."

But does this mean it's time for Humphries to get into the primary rotation and continue to get 15+ minutes per game going forward?

In short, yes, but it's not quite that simple. Say what you will about Poythress and his ability to disappear from games as easily as he can dominate them, but he's been a force since moving to the 5 spot with Derek Willis now at the 4.

Since that move, Poythress is averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 boards per game in just 23.4 minutes of action. He's been in foul trouble more, but he's been a force more often than he was playing the 4.

So if Humphries gets more playing time, that cuts down Alex's minutes there. He, Willis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis have gotten the bulk of the minutes with Marcus Lee, Skal Labissiere and Dominique Hawkins being the next three off the bench.

You could give Humphries some of Skal's minutes, but he's only getting 12.4 minutes per game over the last five games. The same goes for Lee, but it's hard to say Isaac has earned the right to take Lee's minutes after one game. Lee has been erratic this season, but he's also shown he can be a solid rim protector (1.8 blocks per game over last 5 games).

So while Humphries has definitely earned more minutes, it's not as though his playing time should skyrocket after one good performance. Assuming Poythress is back soon, we probably shouldn't expect Humphries to get more than 5-10 minutes of action per game going forward, but for at least Tuesday's matchup with Georgia, he's earned that much.