Like It Is:

Refs not the reason Kentucky gets to the line more

By: Wally Hall
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2019
Kentucky's Ashton Hagans, right, fouls Arkansas' Isaiah Joe (1) as Kentucky's Nick Richards (4) watches during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Kentucky won 70-66. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
Kentucky's Ashton Hagans, right, fouls Arkansas' Isaiah Joe (1) as Kentucky's Nick Richards (4) watches during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Kentucky won 70-66. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

At the end of the Arkansas-Kentucky game, there were some officiating calls that could have gone either way.

After long replays, the two biggest did not go the way of the University of Arkansas, and Kentucky prevailed 70-66 — not so much because of the calls, but in the second half the Wildcats played Hogball.

They smothered the Razorbacks with their defense, forcing countless possessions to end when the Razorbacks jacked up a shot in hopes of beating the shot clock.

Mike Anderson was naturally upset about the officiating. He pushed the envelope, but coaches are not allowed to address the officials and their whistle blowing, per SEC rules.

He did mention the Wildcats shot 32 (making 22) free throws, and the Razorbacks just 15 (making 10). If you took free throws out of the equation, Arkansas would have won 56-48, but free throws are part of the game.

Free throws also are a pretty big part of Kentucky’s offense. The Wildcats average 23.8 attempts per game while their opponents are at 15.2 attempts. That’s a big discrepancy, but it doesn’t mean SEC officials wear Big Blue T-shirts when on vacation. There is one SEC official who has let it be known he’s a LSU Tiger fan by posting a picture of himself a few years ago with a LSU T-shirt and the words “Geaux Tigers.”

Yet, he’s the only known homer among the officiating ranks, and the hard numbers indicate the officials are uniform in the way they call a game. Maybe someday they will actually quit anticipating calls.

For more than 20 years, people have claimed officials have the Dick Vitale disorder — they love Duke.

This season, Duke has shot 632 free throws, making 438, and opponents have shot 431, making 300. That’s an average of 22.5 attempts per game vs. 15.3 attempts. As written above, Kentucky averages a little more per game.

However, the key stat is fouls. Through 28 games, Kentucky and Duke have the same record of 24-4, but the Wildcats have fouled 448 times and their opponents 552. That’s an average of 16 to 19.7. Duke has fouled 449 times compared to 496 from opponents, 16 to 17.7 averages.

Tuesday night, Arkansas was called for 23 fouls, Kentucky 19. That does not scream homer-ism by the officials.

All of the Wildcats attack the basket. A couple of Razorbacks, mostly Daniel Gafford, attack the rim. Kentucky makes the front end of one-and-ones, and sometimes the UA struggles with that.

The biggest question for most Razorback fans after the Kentucky game was where has that Razorback team been. The team that played the Wildcats tough would have beaten Western Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Texas Tech, and have conference wins at home over Florida, LSU, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.


This is a little late, but definitely worth mentioning because of the amazing accomplishment.

Danielle Gibson, a sophomore infielder for the Razorbacks softball team, did something Saturday that only one other person in Division I softball has ever accomplished — she hit the home-run cycle. That’s home runs with none on, one on, two on and a grand slam, and she did it in four innings.

That’s four at-bats with four home runs and 10 RBI.

She was named co-Player of the Week in the SEC and by USA Softball.

She shared the national honor with Kent State’s Andrea Scali, who pitched two shutouts in the Baylor Invitational. The SEC honor was shared with South Carolina’s Jana Johns, who went 10 of 11 in her series.

Good accomplishments by Scali and Johns, but not historic. Congrats to Danielle Gibson.

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