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Calipari denies knowing about the free throw switch

Jan 2, 2013, 10:50 AM EDT

NCAA Final Four Kentucky Louisville Basketball

Last Saturday, Kentucky fell to Louisville on the road 80-77. Following the Wildcats loss, it was discovered that Kentucky got a little creative at the free throw line.

Towards the end of the first half, Nerlens Noel got fouled by Russ Smith, trailing 35-27. However, Noel, a 52 percent free throw shooter on the year didn’t take the shots, fellow freshman Alex Poythress did. Poythress is 64 percent from the line this season.

Head coach John Calipari has been criticized for the free throw fraud and on Monday addressed the incident, claiming he had no knowledge of the free throw switch.

“If I thought the wrong guy was on the line, I’d get him off the line,” Calipari told the media on Monday, also stating he has corrected officials in the past.

Calipari went on to joke about the free throw conspiracy, telling reporters that he was not on the grassy knoll, referencing the Nov. 22, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

He also disputed the idea he had Noel and Poythress switch at the free throw line, due to Poythress’ struggle from the charity stripe. The freshman forward was 2-of-6 on Saturday, while Noel missed his only attempt.

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

The Big Lead was the first to catch the free throw switch on Sunday.

Terrence is also the lead writer at and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

  1. gopokes0714 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    If only there were dedicated people to officiate the game…

  2. clarenceoveur - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    hate to side with Calipari, but it looks more like the ref switched them, on the video it looks like Poythress was the one actually fouled

  3. namriverrat69 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    It is obvious from the switch. They move at the same time to new positions. The guy from the lane knew he wasn’t the foul shooter just like the foul shooter standing behind and to the left of the shooter also knew he should be on the line.

    Things like this are thought up and worked out in practice. The switch went off very slick and smoothly. These guys wouldn’t have risked suspension and other punishment for getting caught doing this on their own. Calipari who has been know to leave two institutions with heavy NCAA sanctions after he left for illegal things done on his watch by his players.

    Cal is a known cheater. This is such a nothing game made it perfect to slip the cheat in to test the waters. He got caught. If he tries it again fans will be following closely and he’ll get popped,

    Gotta give him credit. . .he’s a good cheater . . .but only for so long. When he is on the verge of getting popped he leaves for another school. If someone cheats and the school is placed on probation and loses post season eligibility, the coach of the team should receive the same penalty. He should be made to sit our the number of games the team loses or maybe he can’t coach a new team in the post season. Something needs to be done for these coaches who cheat and get aways scott free.

    • ukfannick - Jan 3, 2013 at 4:42 AM

      Camby took money from an agent in his junior year, and somehow that makes Cal a cheater? and I’m sure if the Nets offered you the head coaching job while you were the coach at Massachusetts you’d decline the offer

    • ukcatsfan - Jan 3, 2013 at 8:46 AM

      You are serious? You honestly believe that Cal made that switch? If Cal is going to make a switch he is NOT going to switch Alex Poythress in to shoot the free throws…..why in the world would he risk such a move on a 65% free throw shooter who had already missed two free throw in that game. I am not one of the UK fans who run around saying Haters gonna Hate like some do but you are definetely hating on Coach Cal and simply trying to run his name and image through the mud. Get over your obsession with trying to trash Cal and get a life!!

  4. mleeterry - Jan 3, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    Bah, bah, bah. You are all sheep. Did you even look at the video before your babbling? You assume anything negative said about Calipari to be true, apparently. Did you know that he burns down churches and strangles kittens in his spare time when he’s not offering shoe contracts to junior high kids? It’s true! I read it on the internet! I understand that there’s a video disproving all of that, and it would only take about 2 minutes of my time to watch it, but I don’t have time for that. I trust everything I see online. Why would someone write something negative about a guy just to get hits from their huge fanbase? That’s weird.


    First of all, the video supplied by The Big Lead is weirdly edited to begin with, but assuming it’s actual real time game footage, it is clearly obvious that Poythress was the player fouled on a reach in. The ball gets to Noel, but he is never touched before the whistle stops play. You don’t see any ref in the video, but one of them had to have told Noel he was shooting. There’s no reason a kid in a big game on national television would try to outsmart three refs and all the sideline officials. Noel wouldn’t have lined up to shoot unless a ref told him he was the shooter. As with most officiating crews, a second ref, I’m sure, realized the error and corrected the shooter to Poythress. Believe it or not, this kind of thing happens in the fast-paced game of basketball. Shocking, I know!

    The difference from a 50% to a 60% FT shooter is marginal. To think Cal would risk any sort of punitive action for something like this is completely laughable. But, I’m sure it’s right up the alley of you and your fellow conspiracy theorists out there. Coach Cal has better things to do like recruit androids from underneath Disney World. For real.

  5. mleeterry - Jan 3, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    And shame on Terrence Payne for adding to this nonsense. You are a basketball writer?!? Really? In your best judgment, you actually sat down, looked at the video, and thought this was more than a non-issue? Your boss needs to have a second opinion about keeping you on staff. Way to go sneaking this past your editors.

    • Terrence Payne - Jan 8, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      Thank you for reading, mleeterry

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