By LARRY VAUGHT
Just as Kentucky coach John Calipari and players did after Saturday’s overtime loss at Texas A&M, UK assistant coach Tony Barbee said Monday that everyone has stayed positive with Isaac Humphries.
The freshman got called for a technical foul for spiking the basketball with less than 10 seconds left in overtime and UK leading by a point.
“It was just a kid who got caught up in the emotion of the moment. He was happy and excited that he thought he had given us a chance to win,” Barbee said. “I think this team has a pretty strong resolve. We were all crushed in that immediate 24 hours after the game, but we’ve since moved on to Alabama.”
Kentucky will host Alabama Tuesday night and a win would keep the Cats in sole possession of first place in the SEC standings.
Junior Marcus Lee said no one could “really do anything” about the technical called on Humphries.
“If we were all in that position, we probably would have done the same,” Lee said. “Just like all of us, he took it as something that really impacted the game. We just took it as a team to help him on it.”
Before that play, Humphries’ defense and rebounding had been a major plus for Kentucky.
“Isaac’s always been a physical presence. He’s not afraid to go in there and mix it up and bang and throw his body at people. He was able to do that against one of the better bigs in the league in (Tyler) Davis,” Barbee said. “He’s a confident player defensively and he’s confident in his rebounding ability because obviously of his size, his physical strength, and then you couple that with his mental approach to it. He’s not afraid to go against anybody out there.”
“He’s a motivated kid anyway so I don’t think that will motivate him anymore than he already is.”
Barbee also didn’t think Humphries being from Australia had any role in what happened at the end of the game.
“He didn’t feel he was trying to slam the ball. He was just caught up in the emotion of the moment. He was excited for his team and being able to get that rebound thinking he was going to go shoot free throws and have a chance to give us some more room at the end of the game,” Barbee said. “It was more so he was just caught up in the moment excited for his team.”
Lee also said being Australian had nothing to do with what Humphries did.
“Just in the rush of the game things happen and that’s it,” Lee said Monday. “Isaac’s been killing it the last couple games and he has been in practice. We love the energy and the strength and power he brings throughout the game and to our team. So he did phenomenal that game and we couldn’t ask any more of him.
“He’s doing fine. He’s going to go in this practice and totally forget about it.”