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Skal Labissiere steals the spotlight on Senior Day

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Saturday was all about the senior Alex Poythress in his final game at Rupp Arena. While he had a special farewell performance, freshman Skal Labissiere came out of nowhere to steal the spotlight and put his best performance so far in a Wildcat uniform.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

There were several different story lines to watch for as the LSU Tigers came into Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats on Senior Day.

Top NBA draft prospect Ben Simmons was on display, LSU was looking to put themselves back in the NCAA Tournament conversation with a surprise win, and Alex Poythress, one of the most talented seniors that John Calipari has ever coached, was hoping to have a great farewell game.

Kentucky dominated all these story lines, as they held Ben Simmons from dominating in the way that he normally does, and Poythress put up double figures (12 points) in a 94-77 victory that will hurt the Tigers' tournament hopes if they cannot pull off a big run for the SEC title.

While all of these aspects of the game were important, none of them were the biggest attention-grabber.

Instead, the biggest attention-grabber was the play of freshman Skal Labissiere. Skal has had his ups and downs this season, which I have discussed already. But if you watched yesterday's game without any outside knowledge, you would have thought Labissiere was arguably the best forward in college basketball.

He had the best all-around game he has had all season, putting up 18 points, and boasting career-highs in both rebounds and blocks. He grabbed nine boards and swatted six shots, and some of those blocks were just electrifying.

He was more efficient than we've ever seen him before with that many points, as he shot 80% on 10 shots. He also thrived in a stretch four type of play, as he racked up the majority of his points on mid-range jumpers, using his wingspan to get shots off over the defense while avoiding getting pushed around down low with his smaller frame.

This is back-to-back games now in which Skal has played as well as all UK fans hoped he would from the start. He scored 11 points and had eight rebounds against Florida in the game prior to this one, and came back Saturday with his best performance as a Wildcat.

This could potentially be a coming out party for Labissiere, as he seems to be finding his identity at the forward position. If this is in fact the defining moment where Labissiere finally begins to make his mark on this team, the timing could not be any better. The 'Cats are sitting at around a 4 seed in most tournament projections right now.

If Labissiere can continue to play this well and help lead them to an SEC Championship with some convincing victories, they will gain a ton of momentum and confidence going into the tournament, and will also make a jump in the bracket and get a pretty high seed.

One thing is for sure: Labissiere played with tremendous confidence against LSU, something that hasn't been all that common, and he was one of the biggest contributors to the win on Senior Day. This is what Kentucky fans have been waiting for, and it is thrilling to see him play this well.