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John who? Calipari gets ejected, Cats really to win 73-66 at Arkansas

Ashton Hagans helps restrain John Calipari while Immanuel Quickley covers his ears after Calipari was ejected Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky answered coach John Calipari getting ejected in the second half with a 15-0 run at Arkansas Saturday to beat the Razorbacks 73-66 after almost blowing a double-digit lead on the road like they had done at South Carolina on Wednesday.

Calipari got upset after an illegal screen was called on EJ Montgomery with 8:19 to play — UK had eight points in 12 minutes in the second half and the Hogs had shot 15 free throws to none for UK when the ejection came. The way UK responded made it almost seem like the coach got ejected on purpose — something ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said he didn’t believe Calipari did.

Neither did Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne.

“I seriously doubt it,” Payne said when asked about Calipari getting ejected on purpose. “If he had, I wish he would’ve given me a head’s up.”

Arkansas had a 47-44 lead after completing a 13-2 run after making the free throws after Calipari’s technicals. Yet the Cats came storming back even though point guard Ashton Hagans had to engineer UK’s 15-0 run playing with four fouls after getting his third and fourth fouls in a 27-second span early in the second half

“I think it was a huge mountain (to climb),” Payne said about the significance of the road win.

Kentucky had a lot of players contribute to the win in a variety of ways.

— Nick Richards led the scoring with 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting and also had nine rebounds and two blocks.

— Hagans was 3-for-10 from the field at one point but then made the only other shot he took and knocked down three free throws to finish with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

— Immanuel Quickley had a rare off game shooting — he was 3-for-14 overall and 1-for-5 from 3-point range — but had 13 points (he was 6-for-7 at the foul line) and 10 rebounds for his first double-double at UK. He played all 40 minutes and had just two turnovers.

He went on Twitter immediately after the game to proclaim it a “Big Win” and who could argue with the way the game unfolded.

— Tyrese Maxey got consecutive key goals in the second half and had 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting, six rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block.

— Keion Brooks Jr. came off the bench to add 10 needed points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field and 4-for-6 at the line along with seven rebounds, one block and one steal in 17 minutes.

“I just wanted to come in and bring some energy and bring a spark off the bench. Coach loves it when someone is out there doing the dirty work. I am just going to embrace it,” Brooks said.

Kentucky outrebounded the Hogs 27-10 in the first half and also went 4-for-7 from 3-point range to take a 36-27 halftime lead despite early foul trouble by Maxey (two fouls in first seven minutes) and EJ Montgomery that limited them to a combined 19 minutes.

The Cats got a big lift from Johnny Juzang who hit a 3-pointer and 15-foot jumper and also got a rebound in his 10 minutes and Brooks who followed Juzang’s only miss with an athletic follow shot. Juzang had just seven field goals in 13 games and only once — against UAB on Nov. 29 — had two field goals in a game.

Quickley had six rebounds in the first eight minutes — including following his own miss twice to score — and seven overall while Richards had eight points and six rebounds.

The Razorbacks went 6-for-8 from 3-point range but just 3-for-15 on other shots and also missed five of eight free throws.

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  1. Big time win in a hostile environment

  2. Had Kenny Payne not switch to a zone defense after Cal a injection the game may have been different story. That’s a heads up call on Kenny Payne part and hopefully Cal can get the drift from it.

  3. It looked like South Carolina all over again, then Coach gets tossed and that was questionable in itself, and we come to life. Switching to the zone was key on defenese, but the kids started playing team ball again. Maybe this was their ah hah moment? Would someone please tell me why they play better when Coach is not on the bench? They did that last year in the Bahamas too. Nick had a solid game with 17 points on just 8 shot attempts. If Nick could get 12 shots a game, he would be a solid 20/10 guy…he rebounds and plays defense better when he is involved in the offense. Brooks made me sound like a dummy and I am glad of it. Maybe we can get more from him now. It would be nice since EJ and Nate aren’t helping much. It would be nice if we could get our shot attempts up around 60. It would keep everyone happier.

  4. Big time win amen! For all you Big Blue “whiners” and “dooms day” prophets on here, get a grip. Nice move Cal on your ejection, your team was inspired to finish the battle Coach, because UK was on the bad end of bad calls all day long, all while getting mugged all afternoon long long in Fayetteville. I say he did that on purpose, and I don’t care what that idiot Vitale says.

    Don’t know where the SEC got those guys wearing the stripes today, but they were awful. Worst officiated game I have seen in a long time. UK got a little bit of that at Columbia, SC too last Wednesday night IMO.

    So let’s see now, with Auburn on a losing streak now, and throw in Duke losing to the Cards tonight at Camden Indoor, and other upsets across the land, it would seem to me UK ain’t the only team with issues now is it? Also, it looks like UK is still in the hunt to me sitting at 4-1 in the SEC. and with a nice road win today. Go Cats!!!!

  5. They took care of business and are in the hunt. What ever happened about LSU’s coach paying money to those kids? Should he even be coaching now?

  6. Why can a ref purposefully bump into a coach???
    If a coach does that, they are fined big time. Those refs really need to be reviewed and sanctioned in some manner.
    Worst officiated game of the season so far.

    1. Have not seen any real explanation on the ref bumping Cal

  7. These refs are fans too and that can affect the way they call a game, especially if it helps “their” team out.

    1. Well if that is true, it don’t look like UK has many fans in the ref ranks lately, if ever. And especially on the road in the SEC.

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