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The Kentucky Free Throw Dance

head nod to Mark Ennis

I thought I saw this in the first half as the game was going on, and then it turns out that I was correct. UK’s free throw shooting was putrid so a little switch took place at one point. After Noel was fouled on a drive, Alex Poythress took the shots. The video above shows it taking place.

As the UL coach and many Louisville based sportswriters (both national and local) have taught us over the years with their personal lives, it apparently ain’t cheating if you don’t get caught.

Article written by Matt Jones

55 Comments for The Kentucky Free Throw Dance



  1. PATTYICE
    11:31 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    If your not cheating your not trying



  2. Cat Fan in Indy
    11:31 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    I was at the game and noticed this – I was so confused as to why the wrong person was shooting based on the foul I saw. I texted a friend watching at home and they said they didn’t mention it at all on TV and it must’ve been a ref mistake?



  3. Rick P
    11:31 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t cheat at basketball.



  4. Hole Kogan
    11:32 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    That is hilarious



  5. UK
    11:32 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Maybe we shoulda tried this a few more times…



  6. Zebra
    11:32 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Pretty slick. Watch the play again. Looks like #24 fouled Poythress on the pass. Nerlens never gets touched.



  7. Go Cats
    11:32 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    The reason I put the blame on the refs is you can see about 13-14 seconds in, that Noel steps to the line. Then the refs move everyone around to get set.



  8. Andy
    11:32 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    The foul may have been on Poythress prior to the pass.



  9. Sean
    11:33 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    They fouled Poythress. Noel never gets touched.



  10. hammerhead
    11:33 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Haha wow. Well played, well played…



  11. Tosis
    11:35 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    You can see Alex tell Noel the plan while he’s waiting on the free throw line to shoot.



  12. Scottfromsville
    11:35 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    I saw this also. I thought maybe they called the foul when they threw it to Alex.



  13. ryan
    11:39 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Pretty sure Poythress got fouled, and Noel assumed it was on him.



  14. David
    11:39 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Poythress was fouled. Come on Matt dont post something making us look like cheaters without researching a little bit, damn



  15. Troy
    11:41 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Maybe he can do the same with Mays. Mays should NOT be playing 35 minutes a game. He should not be starting. He should be getting 15 minutes coming off the bench.



  16. Fire Calipari
    11:42 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Let’s hire the coach from Butler.



  17. williamtitan
    11:43 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    the refs in this game were dumbasses. calling late fouls and not paying attention. they were probably the NCAA’s replacement refs 😉



  18. pasimp44
    11:45 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Good God Matt, POYTHRESS got fouled. The ref is right there and tells them that Alex should be at the line. You’re better than this, dude.



  19. MHFaulkner
    11:48 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    It may be a slick trick, but if you look at the play by play on ESPN.com, it looks that Nerlens was only fouled one time in the first half during the last minute of the half. Poythress had multiple fouls on him – looks like it may have been called properly. I can’t tell when this happened in the first half from the video.



  20. bloobloodcat
    11:49 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    free throws, maturity, and poise are not easy to correct



  21. Csworth
    11:50 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Ray Mears was famous for this with Ernie and Bernie – The fourth paragraph of the linked article discusses this. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1090748/index.htm



  22. Matt Jones
    11:52 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    They called the foul on Smith not Harrell….look again



  23. Garrett
    11:54 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    This is weak. Poythress was fouled.



  24. UKBlue
    11:55 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    #13 & 17 Put on your glasses & take your meds; the ref points at Russ Smith who was wrapped around Noel & not even near Poythress.

    Just video of evidence of the idiot Big East refs that called that game on both sides. These guys should all be suspended & fined by the conference.



  25. Travis Ford
    11:55 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    I got a way with this once and Coach Pitino suspended me for a game.



  26. Jerry Tipton Says
    11:56 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Looks like the bright folks here explained it just fine. The foul more than likely was called on the guy reaching in on Alex. Noel didn’t seem to ever get touched.

    But Noel mistakenly thought he was going to the FT line until the refs probably clarified who was supposed to be shooting.

    Of course, if you want to be Jerry Tipton, then you accuse our Cats of cheating by watching the same video.

    I’m not sure why Matt Jones would think we’re cheating, not that that is really cheating. The players frequently try to order the refs around (like when they point their way when there’s a question about who the ball ricocheted to go out of bounds), but it’s the refs jobs to direct, not be directed.



  27. Matt Jones
    11:57 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Again folks, Poythress was bumped by Harrell…they called the foul on Smith. Think whatever you wish but try to at least acknowledge the facts



  28. Michael
    11:57 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    The foul was on Poythress as he passed it to Noel. When Noel initially stepped to the line I was telling my wife that the wrong player was going to shoot. They straightened it out and Poythress took the free throws. No story here.



  29. Matt Jones
    11:58 am December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Plus the ref is waving in the replacement for Smith (who was taken out because it was his 2nd foul) into the game and telling HIM where to stands on the free throw line.

    But again, believe whatever you wish. I love our fans more than anything but some people cant simply (a) have fun (its not like this matters whatsoever either way) or (b) imagine that we might have done just a little gamesmanship



  30. RealCatsFan
    12:00 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    They both got fouled, so we should have been shooting 4 free throws. The sad thing is that we would have probably only hit 2 of them.



  31. Lawdog
    12:06 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    This is hilarious! The foul was obviously called on Russ Smith, hence the reason why Pitino jumped his ass and yanked him from the game before the free throws. Smith’s replacement, #5, points to Poythress following the “bait and switch” technique and appears to be asking, “Why the F is he on the line”? Classic.



  32. RealCatsFan
    12:07 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Matt, any chance that it was an honest mistake by the UK coaching staff – perhaps they thought Alex was the one fouled like most of the rest of us. What is the penalty for intentionally switching FT shooters if you are caught?



  33. CAUKFAN
    12:10 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    I saw that!



  34. the Big Dog
    12:19 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Who’s to say that they didnt give the foul to the wrong person. Poythress was fouled first and may have assumed that he belonged at the line. If that was not the case, the officials should have corrected the situation. It’s not like we tried to put our best free throw shooter at the line. It seemed to me the ref caused the switch from Noel to Pythress. In any evebnt, nice post JT.



  35. Ridge Runner
    12:19 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    so umm… Poythress did do something in this game.



  36. scottfromsville
    12:19 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Just checked the ESPN play by play tracker. Foul on Smith. lol. Would have been great if we won by 1 point.



  37. Delk for 3
    12:25 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    31 — Not a mistake by the coaching staff. They recognized the foul could have been on either player and they told Alex to go to the line until the refs made it clear who was the shooter. Coaches do stuff like this all the time in basketball games. I referee high school basketball games and see it often. The refs (especially on bonus shots) must identify the shooter or something like this will happen.



  38. Delk for 3
    12:26 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Unfortunately Alex only hit one of the two on this one.



  39. Jeff
    12:29 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    The foul was called on Russ Smith, according to the official stats. He was guarding Noel when the foul was called. Too many people lying to apologize for a cheating coach.



  40. Delk for 3
    12:34 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    38 — It’s not Cal’s job. It’s the refs job to identify the shooter.



  41. Hazard Kidd-Katt
    12:38 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    If this is truly the case, cut it out … this is the University of Kentucky, not Tennessee. Older fans will remember UT’s free-throw ‘switcheroo’ tactic which they called ‘Gamesmanship’ back in the day. This was done at UK when Pitino was here and he benched the two players involved for one game. This is the University of Kentucky, cut it out.



  42. Excuses, Excuses
    12:54 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    You mad, bro?



  43. BILL
    12:56 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Alex only hit 2 of 6 free throws. I am not sure this is really cheating.



  44. j8
    1:16 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Pretty sure Pitino pulled this trick a couple times with Travis Ford back in the day…



  45. Bill
    1:20 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Alex got fouled… And the ref told them to switch at the line… Your making us look bad, Matt…



  46. Michael
    1:24 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    If they called it on Smith, then they called it on the wrong person. I agree he fouled Noel, but if my memory serves, the whistle was blown before Noel got the ball or just as he was getting it. I believe the refs called the foul on whoever was fouling Poythress. There may have been a mix-up on who the foul was charged to, but I thought the right person took the free throws.



  47. BurgerMeisterMeisterBurger
    1:33 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    It’s hard to tell where a foul actually should have been called, so maybe it was on Poythress.

    Way too many calls like that in the game. Refs called the game way too close at times and not enough at other times. Let them play basketball; just call it reasonably & consistently. These refs were not in synch and were way too inconsistent.

    But I think this foul may have been called on Poythress. I guess you’d have to review the entire game to count fouls and verify. If not, that’s funny they got away with it.

    BTW, no need to keep being so petulantly personal with your comments Jones. Glass houses.



  48. Funky Monkey
    1:46 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Thanks for showing the video, proves refs were right, Noel trying to sneak in there when it was actually Alex fouled before the pass. A swing and a miss for brother Matt on this one.



  49. "You Can't Handle The Truth"
    2:31 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    It really did’nt matter,the bolts were already getting loose on the rim from the previous free throws.



  50. Chad
    2:31 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Folks the ref called Russ Smith reaching in and hitting Alex Poythress’s hand. Hence why the foul was on Russ Smith and he was guarding Nerlens. But he reached if on Alex. Its bad enough its on UofL websites. But seriously wtf KSR. You got to be kidding me. If you watch not one UofL coach player is saying wrong guy shooting. Plus its Nerlens and Alex they look nothing alike. Ones 6’11 the other 6’7. They arent twins here!



  51. Horse
    2:38 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    GO CARDS!!!!!!!!!!



  52. Bigcat4453
    3:12 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    What I really want to know is why they don’t just give Pitino a jersey? He’s all the way out on the three pt stripe? Really, I saw a ref on more than one occasionhave to step around him yesterday in order to keep from running him over.



  53. MCMarshal
    6:23 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    Over 20 years ago our hs team had two really terrible free throw shooters. We had a good shooter step to the line every time those two were fouled. Our good shooter set the record in the King of the Bluegrass tournament for most attempts in a game at the time.



  54. Pain
    10:13 pm December 30, 2012 Permalink

    I saw Martinez shoot for Prickett at Vandy in ’94. Pitino was head coach. Everybody does it. It’s the ref’s job to specify the shooter.



  55. JJ
    3:31 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    When I was watching this, I remember when Noel stepped to the line, and I thought there was no way he was the one that was fouled. I figured the refs told them to switch. I doubt this was anything coach Cal said to do. To me it was obvious that Poythress was the one that was fouled. Not cheating in any way shape or form. The refs told them to switch because Poythress was obviously the one that was fouled.