By LARRY VAUGHT
What is causing so many fouls in Southeastern Conference games?
There have been 233 fouls called in UK’s last five SEC games, and 144 in the last three including 52 in Tuesday’s win at Mississippi State.
“If they’re going to call 144, just make sure they’re on both of us. Don’t just make them on our team. Call them on everybody,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “If you’re calling hand checks, call them all. If not, let them all go.
“I really don’t, honestly, I don’t care what they call. Just, if you make a call, then you better make that same call for my team, and that’ll be my beef. If I’m upset, it’s based on that: You’re letting it go here and why are you calling it there? That’s the only time I get upset.
“But here’s what I would say: If you know they’re calling it this way, then adjust. Your team needs to be smart enough.”
True. Sounds easy, too, but players often do not adjust. Kentucky has had a player foul out just three times this season. In 18 games, UK has been called for 342 fouls while opponents have been called for 442. At the foul line, UK is 327 of 479 and opponents are a combined 259 of 373.
Freshman Wenyen Gabriel says officiating is part of the game players cannot control.
“Of course it’s difficult because the game keeps stopping, but you just have to fight through it,” freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox said about the fouls. “I mean, they had to go through it too. Both teams had foul trouble. Even if we lost I can’t give an excuse just because both teams had to go through it. We weren’t the only team that went through it.”
So how does Calipari keep officiating from impacting his players?
“Tell them don’t foul. How about that one? Which, if you listen to me the whole game, I’m yelling, ‘Don’t foul.’ Don’t foul, don’t foul, give them space, don’t foul.’ And then at the end of the game, we get the most fouls called on us,” Calipari said.
On playing in a game with 52 fouls called in the game …