The LSU Tigers men’s basketball team and head coach Will Wade are in the midst of their best single season since they won 27 games back in 2008-09. After beating the fifth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Tuesday night in the always hostile Rupp Arena, LSU has 20 wins on the season and trail only the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC standings. However, the Tigers’ 20th win of the year came complete with a ton of controversy.
With the score tied and six seconds remaining, junior Skylar Mays took the inbounds pass and raced down the court. Mays’ final shot careened off the backboard where senior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams played the hero for a buzzer-beating win. Officials counted the basket, but basketball fans everywhere couldn’t figure out how two missed calls could possibly happen on the final possession.
Both members of the broadcast team in Lexington — Karl Ravech and the legendary Dick Vitale — said immediately after the shot went down that the bucket counted and was legal. However, when you look closer at the play, both Kentucky and LSU should have been called for goaltending on the same play.
First, Kentucky’s E.J. Montgomery put his entire arm up through the inside of the basket and appears to grab the rim on the way down, which by definition is basket interference with the shot still in the air.
Then, Kavell Bigby-Williams’ tip-in shot went through the nylon as the buzzer sounded, but the ball was not outside of the cylinder, which again, should have been called an offensive goaltending and negated the basket.
Regardless of how this final play was called, LSU deserved to win the game after coming back from eight points down at the start of the second half. Still, Kentucky head coach John Calipari had some choice words about the final possession not being reviewed by officials.
“Do you remember we lost in the Final Four when there was a goal, a shot clock violation and they said it was not reviewable and then they changed the rule to say, why would you want to lose a game on a shot clock violation and it’s easy to go check? Well, this one is easy to go check, too. Just go check it. Why would you not — why would that not be reviewable?”
— John Calipari, via Kentucky Sports
This loss snapped the Wildcats’ 10-game winning streak since they dropped a 77-75 conference game to the Alabama Crimson Tide back on January 5. Aside from an opening throttling by the Duke Blue Devils, Calipari’s team has lost its other three games by a total of seven points. Next up, they’ll host the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers.
LSU basketball rides this momentum into the latter part of their SEC schedule, and another big win puts them in prime position for a high seed when college basketball’s NCAA Tournament comes calling in only a few weeks.