Wildcats fans won’t be happy about this.
Kentucky and LSU staged a modern day SEC classic at Rupp Arena on Tuesday. The Wildcats entered riding a 10 game winning streak and playing their best basketball of the season. LSU was coming into its own as well, getting off to a 9-1 start in conference and crashing the top 20 of the polls this week.
This game was every bit as good as expected, with the Tigers matching shot for shot with the mighty Wildcats until the final seconds. That’s when things got weird. LSU, up two, fouled Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson with six seconds left. Johnson, who was 3-of-7 from the foul line up to that point, calmly sank both to tie the score.
LSU had the ball and one final chance. Junior Skylar Mays drove to the basket and missed a layup, but teammate Kavell Bigby-Williams was there for the tip-in.
Crazy ending for LSU vs Kentucky pic.twitter.com/E7NaRINeGc
— HoopMixOnly (@HoopMixOnly) February 13, 2019
Officials reviewed the play and determined Bigby-Williams got the shot off in time. That part was obvious. The bigger question: was the ball still over the cylinder when it was tipped in?
It sure looks like it:
The ball is clearly within the cylinder when it is touched. Should have been goaltending. But @SethOnHoops says they can’t review that… so it was missed by officials in real time. Great win for LSU, but game should be in OT. pic.twitter.com/foW5HFzWCL
— Dari Nowkhah (@ESPNDari) February 13, 2019
There’s only one problem: this isn’t a reviewable play because the ball was off the rim. It still should have been goaltending because it sure looks like it was over the cylinder.
Update: It appears as if Kentucky should have been called for defensive goaltending as the shot was going up:
Kentucky fans will scream for an offensive goaltend on the game-winner but it definitely looked like at least one of their guys had his hand inside the rim too. #BBN #LSU pic.twitter.com/VKBtHx2Gus
— PalestraBack (@PalestraBack) February 13, 2019
A lot of analysts believe Kentucky got screwed on this no-call
There is literally no disputing that that was basket interference. Very difficult call to make especially in that situation and not reviewable.
— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) February 13, 2019
Two things I believe to be true:
1. Kentucky got hosed. The ball was coming off the rim but still in the cylinder when it was tipped in.
2. That was a hell of a performance by LSU. Nobody questioned the Tigers’ talent, but they’re playing confidently, fearlessly.
— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) February 13, 2019
Kentucky and LSU should have gone to overtime. Instead, LSU picks up a huge road win because the refs missed a call at the buzzer.
Now, to be fair, it’s so difficult to call a bang-bang play like this as goaltending in the moment, especially without the benefit of review. The problem isn’t so much that the officials made the wrong ruling, it’s that they weren’t allowed to review it in the first place.
This game has real ramifications on the race for the SEC regular season crown. Tennessee, still No. 1 in the polls, leads the conference at 10-0. Kentucky is now 9-1 and LSU is 10-1. These two teams don’t face again unless it happens in the SEC tournament. Here’s hoping it happens.
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