After a first half that earned the refs praise for a lack of whistles, the officials found themselves in the midst of heavy criticism in the second half.
Throughout the evening, Arkansas players often seemed to flop after contact. Kentucky’s John Calipari plead his case several times, and with his team down on the scoreboard, found himself ejected despite keeping seemingly calm.
What made it even worse was former head of officials John Adams even said that was not an illegal moving screen violation by EJ Montgomery, which was what really set Calipari off.
Absolute nightmare. That was not an illegal screen.— John W. Adams (@jwasports) January 18, 2020
EJ Montgomery's "Moving Screen," according to referee Anthony Jordan.— Spalding, John (@seasonneverends) January 19, 2020
Presented without comment. pic.twitter.com/wIN6OqQRCG
But while that ejection got all of the attention, there was another incident that nearly allowed Arkansas back in the game after Kentucky had seemingly locked up the win.
Towards the end of the game, the refs again found themselves earning criticism as they took several minutes to decide whether or not Immanuel Quickley committed a Flagrant I foul with Kentucky up 69-60.
Immanuel Quickley's flagrant foul, shown in here in four parts. Part 1, foul no call.— Spalding, John (@seasonneverends) January 19, 2020
Part 2, foul no call.
Part 3, foul no call.
Part 4, yeah he did swing his elbow, but perhaps he was fearing for his life. pic.twitter.com/Q70wdMapcg
Not only did Quickley appear to be fouled before the refs called a jump ball, but they even called the Flagrant I on him, which led to two Isaiah Joe free throws, then an and-1 bucket by Andrio Bailey that cut Kentucky’s lead to 69-64 with 26 seconds left.
Thankfully, Bailey missed the free throw, while Quickley and Keion Brooks would go on to hit four free throws to help Kentucky win 73-66.
If Saturday’s officiating tells us anything, it’s that college basketball has a referee problem, and changes need to be made before it ruins the postseason.
I really feel like we need a summit on officiating before we get to the NCAA tournament. They gotta fix this before March.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) January 18, 2020
Regardless, Saturday was a good one for the Cats as they improved to 4-1 in conference play.