It is always a tough decision for a head coach and for the team if they want to foul up three or not. The Kentucky Wildcats decided not to do that against Florida, and it burned them.
Rob Dillingham had a chance to put the nail in the coffin if he made both free throws to make it a two-possession game, but he went one for two, only making it a three point game.
The lead was 84-81 with 13.5 seconds left in the game when Florida came down the court, and Walter Clayton Jr. hit the game-tying triple.
The game eventually went into overtime, where Florida went on to win 94-91 against Kentucky.
As for why Kentucky did not foul on the last possession, it was due to how great Florida is at crashing the glass.
“If we were gonna foul with that much time against a really good rebounding team,” John Calipari said after the game. ‘That’s just dangerous.”
Kentucky was in this same predicament earlier in the season when they played against North Carolina and up three. During the huddle, Calipari told the players to foul, but they didn’t need to do that due to UNC eventually turning the ball over.
“I got in the huddle, and I just said, ‘There’s 11 seconds to go. Do you want to foul when they get to half-court?’ Naturally, they said, no, that we’re going to switch. Then I saw (Elliot) Cadeau in the game, and I told Reed (Sheppard), ‘When he crosses half court, foul him so that it doesn’t even go to RJ Davis,” said Calipari.
Of course, Calipari is well-known for when his team did not foul in the NCAA Championship game back in 2008, where Mario Chalmers hit the game-tying 3 to send it to overtime. Memphis eventually lost to Kansas, and the Jayhawks eventually became champions. Calipari has always said he wanted to foul in that scenario, but the referees did not call it during the game.
Calipari has rarely ever decided to call for a foul when up three, and it has shown throughout his career with two instances this year, but also during the 2016-2017 season when Kentucky was up three against Wichita State and they decided not to foul, Malik Monk blocked Landry Shamet’s 3, and the rest was history.
Overall, Calipari does not have a set philosophy on whether a team should foul or not when up three, he said during a 2015 interview.
“It depends on your team,” Calipari said. “In most cases, I would ride it out and not do it. Other cases, depending on their team, you do it. I’ve won and lost both ways.”
Calipari is right. He has won and lost both ways and sadly, it did not favor Kentucky Wednesday night against Florida.