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Tony Barbee says it is “easy for officials to see and call” fouls on UK because of way Cats are playing

Kentucky has been called for 52 fouls in its last two games, a number assistant coach Tony Barbee says may not be high considering how UK has played. (Vicky Graff Photo)


Kentucky got called for 26 fouls in games at South Carolina and Arkansas last week and those high numbers probably played a significant part in UK coach John Calipari getting ejected in the second half at Arkansas Saturday.

However, Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee said today that UK did a “lot of fouling” in both games.

“We did a lot of fouling. It’s something we work on,” Barbee said. “One thing we try to do is make a very competitive practice. Coach wants practices to be harder than the game.

“You’ve guys have heard it forever, and obviously I’ve heard it from him forever: When you are that competitive, you’re fighting. They’re brothers and they’re teammates, but they’re fighting for their opportunities. Our guys are fighting for their livelihoods, so in practice it’s competitive.

“But the one thing we try to limit is the grab and the holding and the fouling because that then translates. What you do in practice is what you’re going to do in the game. We’ve got to be more conscious of what we do with our hands on defense. We’re getting our hands on post players, drivers of the basketball too often and it’s too easy for our officials to see and call.”

Does Calipari have the same analysis?

“I don’t know. You would have to ask him. Nice try,” Barbee said (Calipari was not available to the media Monday).

Barbee said it was an “emotional moment” at Arkansas and said he couldn’t remember a lot.

“They were making a run. The whistles might not have been going our way at that time and it seemed like the situation just got a little out of hand,” Barbee said.

To refresh his memory, Arkansas shot 15 free throws — counting the four technical free throws — in 12 minutes in the second half while Kentucky had not shot one when Calipari got ejected.

Barbee understands the emphasis on playing tougher could be leading to more fouls, a conflict UK must correct starting with Tuesday night’s game against Georgia in Rupp Arena.

“We’ve had a lot of competitive teams around here with competitive individuals and this year is no different. We’ve got to try to regulate it in practice so it doesn’t carry over,” Barbee said.

“That competitive spirit kind of goes over the top sometimes because I want to stop my guy and that turns into fouling. And so, the more we can do that in practice the better we will become defensively even though we are one of the elite defensive teams in the country.”


  1. I don’t know coach, maybe, but from where I sat in front of my big screen, USC and Ark were both pushing, grabbing and hand checking just as UK was, and being physical at the rim and in the paint area. At Ark, the refs were looking the other way until Cal made a statement with his ejection, and the calls started going UK’s way a little. But honestly, UK zone defense helped too. Hagans fouled out much to early foul or no foul.

    It is hard to play this supposedly no contact sport, (yeah right) without physical play. Cal is always preaching be physical and fight. USC’s program is built that way under Frank Martin. You have to match their physical play. Ark was getting all the calls and all the free throws until Cal got in one refs face and made his game changing exit. If we remember, UK was over the limit just mins into the first half, and as I recall early in the second. They started calling fouls on Ark down the stretch and after Cal’s exit to sort of even things out IMO. Many UK drives to the basket, where it appeared that the Ark player fouled, were conveniently dismissed in this game.

  2. We never get a fair shake on the road in the SEC and rarely do in our SEC games in Lexington. The league office does not want KY to be the dominant team. They feel it makes the rest of the leauge look soft and fear less at large bids to the Big Dance. Having dominant teams in the ACC, Big Ten, and Big 12 doesn’t hurt their bids SEC schools need to play tougher non conference schedules and win. That is what will keep the invites for our league in the 5 to 8 range each year. As it stands now, everyone pins their hopes on getting noticed by beating us, but then they lose to podunk teams. KY should not be targeted by the league office in an attempt to make the league look better. Take a look at the scheduling. We always play the best teams twice while most get to skate on a couple. It is what it is and always has been this way and doesn’t look to change any time soon.

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