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Kentucky Basketball: The Handshake Line Controversy Continues

Seems like a controversy that shouldn’t be that controversial.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kansas State vs Kentucky Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

As we’re all aware, Kentucky fell short of a second consecutive Elite 8 appearance last night at the hands of the Kansas State Wildcats.

While that has been the major story, a secondary narrative began to unfold last night when Kansas State players told reporters in the postgame locker room that they were bothered by Kentucky players not shaking their hands following the game.

From ESPN’s Alex Scarborough:

“They didn’t shake our hands,” Kansas State junior guard Amaad Wainright said after his team’s 61-58 Sweet 16 victory. “It’s sorry. ... They know what they did.”

John Calipari was asked about the incident and told reporters that he got to the end of the line after shaking hands with KSU coaches, but the KSU players were still celebrating. Several Kentucky players lined up behind the UK coaches in the handshake line after the game, evidenced by this photo from Kentucky Sports Radio’s Nick Roush.

What appears to have happened is that Kentucky’s players and coaches went through the handshake line with Kansas State’s coaches but when they got to the end, Kansas State players were still celebrating on the other end of the court. Calipari and his squad decided to go on back to the locker room as opposed to staying on the court to wait for the Kansas State players to finish celebrating.

“They were turned and celebrating, so I walked off,” John Calipari said. “There was no disrespect for anything. It’s just that they were celebrating, and I was happy for them... My team’s not like that. There’s no disrespect in any way. They beat us. They deserved to win the game.”

The Spun discovered two videos from inside the arena that offer a little bit of context to the situation but neither really paint the full picture.

The videos are just a small piece of the story. It’s not exactly clear how long the celebration went out, but it’s hard to fault the Kentucky guys for not wanting to stay on the court for the KSU players to finish celebrating.

And the fact that they were celebrating and didn’t come to the handshake line isn’t a big deal either. They just pulled an upset and have a real chance of going to the Final Four. The Kansas State players were ecstatic, as they should be.

But this handshake controversy seems to me that it really shouldn’t be that controversial, but it drives a narrative so it’ll be sure to continue to pick up steam.