Calipari says he didn't switch free-throw shooters

jtipton@herald-leader.comDecember 31, 2012 

Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) , left and Nerlens Noel trapped Louisville Cardinals forward Chane Behanan (21) as Kentucky played Louisville on Saturday December 29, 2012 in Louisville, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

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Coach John Calipari denied growing speculation that Kentucky committed free-throw fraud in Saturday's game at Louisville. In fact, he said he tries to be honest to a fault.

"If I thought the wrong guy was on the line, I'd get him off the line," Calipari said Monday.

That did not appear to happen late in the first half at U of L. With 1:05 left and UK trailing 35-27, referee Ed Corbett called a foul on Louisville's Russ Smith. Replays show Smith fouling Nerlens Noel, who stepped directly to the foul line to get into position to shoot free throws.

As U of L made a substitution, Alex Poythress replaced Noel at the line.

"Why would I put Alex at the line?" Calipari said Monday. "He couldn't make any shots. I would have had more confidence in Nerlens."

Noel came into the game having made 24 of 45 free throws (53.3 percent). Poythress had made 32 of 47 (68.1 percent).

In the U of L game, Noel missed his only free throw, which came as the front end of a one-and-one with 37.8 seconds left in the first half. Poythress made one of two and finished the game with 2-for-6 accuracy.

Guard Ryan Harrow denied knowledge of the incident. "I don't even know what you're talking about," he said. When asked if he had watched video of the game, he said, "Not that part."

Rather than be part of ill-gotten gain, Calipari said he would correct a referee who mistakenly ruled possession to his (Calipari's) team. "I've done that before," he said.

Calipari, who claims to be a believer in karma, was hurt by free-throw shooting in the game. UK made 11 of 23 free throws as U of L won 80-77.

Making light of the speculation, Calipari facetiously denied he was on the grassy knoll in Dallas when John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. He turned 4 earlier that year.

"If you want to say I was in Dallas," he said, "I was there."

Happy New Year

"Let's hope this year becomes as rewarding (as 2012)," Calipari said Monday, "and rewarding is (relative)."

He said he defined rewarding in terms of accomplishment and the amount of improvement made individually and collectively.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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