After LSU nearly made another comeback from death to steal a victory in Rupp Arena, a bit of controversy sparked between the referees and LSU head coach Johnny Jones. While the game was still very much in doubt, 3.9 secs. were left on the clock and the Tigers were looking to press the ‘Cats into a turnover under their own basket. Kentucky assistant John Robic looked up and noticed there were 6 Kentucky players on the court and quickly yanked Nerlens Noel back to the sidelines. As the ball was inbounded, LSU coach Johnny Jones began pleading his case that Noel was still on the floor. The referees began looking at the video monitor to make sure Noel was indeed off the playing court and just on the sideline. If Kentucky had 6 men on the floor, a technical foul would have been assessed and would have gave the Tigers a chance for two free-throws. The referees ruled against Jones, and the ‘Cats walked away with the victory. Noel said in jest that Coach Robic “nearly ended his career” when he yanked Noel back to the bench. You can see in the picture above, John Calipari hugging Alex Poythress as Robic jumped into action.
While the ‘Cats seemingly avoided a huge disaster, and a possible dagger to the heart of their NCAA Tournament hopes, was Noel really off the floor when the ball was inbounded? The director of the crew of referees that called the game was very livid with his guys after the game was over. With a very stern attitude, he told the group to never let a situation like that happen again. Whether Noel was on the court or not, this is the 2nd time this year that he has been the focus of a controversial call. Back with the ‘Cats were in a heated matchup with Vanderbilt, the refs in Nashville seemed to miss a shot-clock violation late in the game. Nerlens Noel had the ball in his hands and made the jumper, but the lights on the shot-clock were clearly on before he released his shot. It was later determined, the shot-clock horn is the deciding factor and not the lights. Regardless, assistant coach John Robic deserves a huge assist in the win vs. LSU.
While the ‘Cats and Tigers battled it out on the basketball court, another story was unfolding among the crowd. Louisville native and former USC football commit, Jason Hatcher tweeted before the game that he was just visiting friends at the Kentucky basketball game and not on any official football business. Hatcher was then seen sitting next to UK head coach Mark Stoops. His recruitment has been one of the most complex I’ve ever tried to follow. He was committed to USC, then he said on his Twitter page he has officially decommitted from the Trojans. Later that night, he allowed a USC coach into his home for a visit. Being from Louisville, the Cards are also on hot pursuit of his services and many believe he will eventually land there. However, Hatcher was supposed to take an official visit to Louisville on the same day he was at the game with Stoops. Hatcher said on Twitter he will not take anymore visits and will wait till National Signing Day to make his choice. So what was he doing with Mark Stoops? Just hanging out with a friend, I guess.
Another big football target was on watch as the ‘Cats took down the Tigers. Franklin Co. (KY) star Ryan Timmons and his mother were in attendance. Former UK head coach Joker Phillips is now trying to sway Timmons away from his home state and play for the Florida Gators. Timmons has a long standing relationship with Joker, having known the coach since he was a sophomore. New offensive coordinator Neal Brown has also been in heavy contact with Timmons and runs the same style of offense the high school star has been playing with for the last few years. Timmons admitted, the new Kentucky staff has sparked his interest more in becoming a ‘Cat. Now that his process is winding down, Ohio State and Florida have most recently extended offers. Stoops and staff have some serious competition for this kid.