In retrospect, it might have been the perfect storm.
Mix in equal parts of Kentucky’s young team reeling from the injury to Nerlens Noel, a road game in a hostile environment against a hot team in Tennessee and the reunion of coach John Calipari and his chief antagonist this season, referee Doug Shows.
Forty minutes later, we were all witness to an 88-58 blowout loss, the ejection of assistant coach John Robic and technical fouls on both Willie Cauley-Stein and Archie Goodwin. Calipari never got a T, but he certainly used up all the other letters in the alphabet.
“I knew right after John was thrown and all that stuff happened, the game was done,” Calipari said afterwards.
Robic was ejected at the 11:17 mark of the first half with Kentucky already trailing 24-12.
“They got the call wrong and then he was disappointed about it,” Calipari explained. “He said something and, you know, I don't think he said enough to get tossed but he did. So, I don't know.”
At 10:15 of the second half and UK trailing 68-42, Cauley-Stein was whistled for a technical by Shows after yelling something in a scuffle following a foul call against Poythress.
At 2:28 and UK down 84-47, Goodwin was involved in a double technical when he shoved Tennessee’s Armani Moore in the back in retaliation for Moore shoving him in the back after a foul call.
Calipari, however, wasn’t rallying to the aid of his players.
“My thing was, why would you do that?” Calipari said. “Why wouldn't you fight for balls. The guys pushed him in the back with two hands. He came up pushing. My point is, don't do that now. You're down 30, why wouldn't you fight as the game was in the balance?”
Calipari continued to jaw with Shows. In the closing minutes as the two were talking during a stoppage in play, Shows replied to Calipari, “Don’t get personal.”
It was not Calipari’s first encounter with Shows. The referee T’d up Kentucky’s coach at the Texas A&M game in Lexington and in a road loss at Louisville, Calipari was so relentless toward Shows that another referee, Ed Cornett, gave Calipari a technical.
Afterwards, the coach was more big-picture philosophic.
“I understand that the out-of-bonds play, should have been our ball, was a three-point play. Then the technicals, and all the sudden it goes from nine and then they go on a run and all the sudden the game's over right away,” Calipari said. “That aside, the way we played and the way they played, even if we had Nerlens we'd have gotten beat because we had two or three guys that couldn't play in the game, they couldn't get open.”