Assistant coach John Robic perhaps made the key assist in Kentucky's 75-70 victory over LSU on Saturday.
After Johnny O'Bryant's put-back narrowed UK's one-time 15-point lead to 71-70, LSU called timeout with 3.9 seconds left. When Kentucky broke the huddle to resume play, six players took the court.
Robic yanked Nerlens Noel back to the bench before referees handed the ball to UK for the inbounds pass.
"He almost ended my career right there," Noel quipped.
Apparently, Robic's quick thinking saved Kentucky from a technical foul.
The referees huddled to apparently discuss what happened, then decided to continue the game with UK inbounding the ball. The referees declined a comment to a pool reporter after the game.
Gerald Boudreaux, the supervisor of SEC officials, issued a statement. "The officiating crew ruled that when the ball was handed to the player for the throw-in, five players were on the court for each team," he said.
LSU Coach Johnny Jones was not so sure. He suggested Kentucky had six.
"Well, that's what it looked like," he said with a good-natured smile. "That's what I thought was going on. (But I) wasn't sure."
UK Coach John Calipari absolved Noel and the other five players on the floor from blame.
"I got on my staff after the game and said, 'You need to be responsible for that,'" he said. "So that may have happened. But, again, he (Noel) was off the court."
Calipari noted the importance of having five players on the court when play resumes.
"You could have eight on the floor," the UK coach. "But, before they hand him the ball, you can only have five."
Hickey takes blame
LSU point guard Anthony Hickey, the 2011 Kentucky Mr. Basketball, took responsibility for his team's loss. He missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw with two seconds left and UK leading 73-70.
"I've got big shoulders," he said. "And I've got to make whatever (shots) for my team. I put this game on my shoulders, and know I'm going to bounce back for my team."
Hickey scored 15 points for LSU. The national leader in steals, he also swiped the ball from UK three times.
Still, he acknowledged the disappointment in losing.
"It hurts real bad, but it's all about moving on," he said. "We're going to see them again later on in the season. ... It hurts for me because I'm from Kentucky, but you have to go through these things to get where you want to go.
"I played OK," Hickey added. "But I could have played better and done so much more. I got some early fouls I shouldn't have got, and that hurt my team with me not being out there."
Coaches vs. Cancer
Calipari wore the gym shoes symbolic of the Coaches vs. Cancer effort. All coaches wore gym shoes to promote the effort.
But Calipari changed into dress shoes for the second half.
"Just not comfortable wearing them," he said of the gym shoes. "They were new.
"By the way, I'm going to sign both shoes and auction them both off for the American Cancer Society."
The auction will be held on Calipari's website: Coachcal.com
Donations can also be made by texting the word "COACH" to 20222 or donating online until April 9.
Cal waxes philosophical
Calipari downplayed the significance of his coaching moves late in the game. For instance, he did not keep Archie Goodwin on the floor down the stretch because he wanted the best free-throw shooters in the game, he said. He also used Jarrod Polson rather than Ryan Harrow for defensive purposes because the former is taller, he said.
"Whatever you do, if you win, you're a genius," Calipari said. "If you lose, you're a goofball."
■ Goodwin missed his only three-point shot. He's 1-for-15 from beyond the arc in the last seven games.
■ Harrow missed his three three-point shots to make him 2-for-16 in the last five games.
■ Conversely, Julius Mays is 12-for-22 from three-point range in the last five games.
■ Noel's six blocks gave him 82 this season. That moved him past Jamaal Magloire (79) for second on UK's list of freshman shot blockers. Only Anthony Davis (186) has more.
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com