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John Calipari being thrown out lit a fire under Kentucky

© Nelson Chenault | USATSI

© Nelson Chenault | USATSI

With 8:19 left in the Kentucky/Arkansas game, John Calipari had seen enough. After the officials called a moving screen on a seemingly immobile EJ Montgomery, Cal threw up his hands and stepped towards the refs for an explanation. With his team trying to hold him back, Calipari continued to question Anthony Jordan and was swiftly ejected and escorted from the court. Arkansas’ Mason Jones hit three of four free throws to put the Razorbacks up 47-44.

Kentucky could have easily folded. Down three in an arena dying for a ‘dub, I think most of us expected it; however, with Kenny Payne and Tony Barbee manning the ship, the Cats went on a 15-2 run over the next four and a half minutes to take a 61-49 lead. From there, Arkansas — and the referees — tried to make it interesting, but Kentucky maintained control for the 73-66 win, the importance of which cannot be overstated following the loss at South Carolina earlier this week.

The way the Cats responded certainly makes it look like Calipari got tossed on purpose, but Payne is skeptical.

“I seriously doubt it,” he told reporters afterwards. “I wish if he had done it on purpose, he would have given me a heads up.”

According to DeWayne Peevy, Calipari refused to watch the stream of the game in the locker room because it was too far behind real time, so Peevy had to refresh the stats to give him updates. Calipari did not meet with the media afterwards, but his grin as he walked out of the arena was unmistakable, and he couldn’t help tweeting about it:

Hagans may have talked to Cal on his way off the court, but Payne did not.

“Nothing on the way out,” Payne said. “[He] probably wanted to choke a few referees.”

The UK Sports Network shared this picture of the team hugging Calipari after the win:

“When we got in he gave me a hug and said, ‘I’m proud of you, I’m proud of these guys.’ I just told him, ‘This is what you built. Overcoming adversity.'”

After Kentucky’s shootaround this morning, cameras captured Calipari running to the bus in workout gear as Arkansas students standing in line booed him from above. UK’s Twitter account shared that video as the Cats left Bud Walton with a win:

Big, big win.

UPDATE: UK’s video of Cal and the team in the locker room is a must-see.


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

34 Comments for John Calipari being thrown out lit a fire under Kentucky

  1. spincr4hire
    7:09 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink


  2. Heavy C
    7:12 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Arkansas fans give Rednecks and Swine a bad mame.

  3. dcforuk
    7:17 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    My son asked if Dick Vitale was right that there is “No Way” Cal would have gotten thrown out on purpose. I said of course not. There is a reasonable chance it was on purpose. Two straight losses against lesser teams on the road after surrendering large leads in both would have been disastrous. Something dramatic had to change at that point in the game. They were headed for a loss anyway so why not take a risk to shake up the momentum. Sometimes the leader has to get out of the way so others can lead! Nice critical win!

  4. kentuckybackupplayer
    7:29 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Cal got thrown out on purpose so he would not have to call a zone defense. He hates zone and he knew Kenny would call one as soon as the clock started running again. Brilliant move love my coach.

    • Jester
      12:35 pm January 19, 2020 Permalink

      Pretty sad if as a coach you’re not willing to make in-game adjustments just because you hate a certain strategy. Or maybe he doesn’t understand the zone so it’s easier to tell the players to each “pick a guy and guard him.”

  5. sKYzthelimit
    7:29 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    KP: Let’s run the picket fence boys. Just don’t get caught watchin’ the paint dry!

  6. UKatCrazy
    7:41 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Why is no one talking about the 2 free throws Kentucky should have been given before Arkansas shot the Flagrant 1 free throws?!?!

    • Dark Soul
      7:49 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Ur right and it was more than just that. You could tell they wanted Ark to win that game. The fouls where called completely one way. It was pretty bad at SC but this was way worse. Sh#%# getting unwatchable

    • EdC
      8:13 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Yea that’s what I said. They ignored the mugging and called it a tie up THEN started looking at the rest. If replay is going to have any value it can’t be limited the way it is. It can’t be just to see if flagrant. They need to be able to revers calls completely and call flops technicals per the rules.

    • UKatCrazy
      10:54 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      No, literally, they flipped the call from Jump ball to foul on Arkansas, then the Flagrant 1 on Quick. There should have been 2 free throws for Quick then 2 free throws and the ball for Arkansas. The Refs TOTALLY missed that UK should shoot. That’s why the scoring table kept acting so confused.

    • makeitstop
      11:02 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      I thought I missed something – glad everyone else (apart from the rumperees) noticed that. WTF? Hire professionals. These guys were clowns.

  7. blitzedanddazed
    7:49 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    When you have one Official that has been suspended by the SEC for bias in Anthony (LSU) Jordan and another Official that is a University of Florida Alumni in Brian Shay, what do you expect ? When is UK going to stand up and do something about this kind of treatment by the SEC? Year after year it is the same old excuses from Birmingham. If no one thinks tainted money does not control these Leagues, they are sadly mistaken.

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:58 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Finally someone else who believes money is behind all this BS! I don’t know if it’s Vegas or some other powerful group but it’s clear their are powerful people behind this.

    • desertCard
      12:40 am January 19, 2020 Permalink

      Finally someone who believes a conspiracy theory lurks behind every call against UK.

  8. EdC
    7:57 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    If your big coaching move in a game is getting kicked out that doesn’t seem to be a real accomplishment. Every coach can easily get kicked out of any game.

    • dcforuk
      8:31 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Sometimes it is the simplest of coaching moves that works best. Not every in-game circumstance and decision is necessarily as coordinated as you may think. Games are a rapidly moving stream…..

    • CrystalBall
      10:31 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      He didn’t deliberately get tossed. He simply inquired as to the health of the officials pet goldfish.
      That official’s mind was made up to toss Cal long before gametime.

  9. Shagaris Sock Puppet
    8:05 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    That’s the dumbest thing ever. Let’s just get kicked out and start a fire lol I think it’s overrated and just happened to look like it worked. We was in the game still. If a player does that he kills them for it, why would he do that on purpose knowing he’s an example to the kids?

    • dcforuk
      8:28 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Being very emotional and upset at the cumulative effect of several bad calls makes it pretty easy of a decision given the momentum working against his team. I disagree with you but that is the wonderful thing about opinions……that’s all they are because the truth is tough to nail fown!

    • Shagaris Sock Puppet
      11:25 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      If cal doesn’t get tossed, do we play a zone in that game? That’s what really changed this game. They shot theirselves out and closed. No more one on one set a pick then take someone that can’t guard to the basket. I’m just saying I do t think him getting tossed was a game changer. It was a coaching switch from man to zone down the stretch.

    • dcforuk
      10:08 am January 19, 2020 Permalink

      You are probably right that it was impactful but I think it’s “YES AND” and not “YES BUT”

  10. Righteous1
    9:13 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    The assistant coaches won this game period. They switched the defense and also called a different play on offense. The team looked like someone flipped a switch and was actually receiving in game coaching. UK loses if no double technical on Calipari period.

    I remember during the Ulis period when UK was an underdog early at South Carolina. Cal gets ejected early and UK played the best game of the year and rolled South Carolina because they changed defenses and actually had in game adjustments. Calipari should get ejected every game by halftime. He would still get his 10 million and they would get better in game adjustments by the assistant coaches period!

    • 4everUKBlue
      9:32 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      The bad news for Cal haters is he is here as long as he wants to be.

    • Bluehender
      10:07 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      He’s no doubt a Cal hater. Go back under your rock till the next loss..

    • dcforuk
      10:49 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Your name may be righteous but that does not mean you are right! Coaches do what they need to win. Cal did that today!

  11. UKLugo
    11:54 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Wasn’t that official that was drawing Cals ire leading to the ejection also on the crew @SC just three days ago? Interesting.

  12. Jester
    12:31 pm January 19, 2020 Permalink

    The assistants won the game. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know his butt from a hole in the ground.
    You can tell who knows basketball and who doesn’t by reading all the comments. The know-nothings with their ridiculous theories about Cal getting ejected on purpose are out of touch with reality. But they’re not true fans. True fans aren’t happy with one championship every 15 or 16 years.

    • dcforuk
      4:53 pm January 19, 2020 Permalink

      FF is the True test of L-T success. Been five years. Not time to panic yet. 98 to 2011 was nearly 3x as bad. If still no FF 5 yrs from now, ok maybe more problematic. 17 and 19 were close. D/N freak out yet!

  13. Jester
    12:32 pm January 19, 2020 Permalink

    You’re drinking some good stuff if you think Cal did that on purpose to spark the team.

  14. dcforuk
    4:48 pm January 19, 2020 Permalink

    Jester, surely you jest right?

  15. BigJohnC
    9:34 pm January 19, 2020 Permalink

    Did u see maxey when cal got the second T? Priceless! He was still smiling lol! And as cal was going across court Ashton patted his back and rallied the troops!