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January 26, 2013Up one with 3.9 seconds left Saturday at Rupp Arena, Kentucky was set to inbound the ball and try to close out a win against LSU.
Except the Wildcats had - momentarily, at least - six players on the court.
That included Nerlens Noel, who was standing on the opposite end of the throw-in near Kentucky's bench. As the official moved to hand Archie Goodwin the ball and start the play, assistant coach John Robic grabbed Noel and yanked him to the sideline.
"Almost ended my career right there," Noel said jokingly after the game.
Had officials ruled UK had six players on the floor with the ball in play, the Cats would have been charged with a technical foul.
No call was made, Kyle Wiltjer was fouled, and - after two brief periods where the officials conferred but didn't review or change the call - made both free throws to put UK up three on the way to a 75-70 victory.
Rule 7, Section 6, Article 1 of the NCAA rulebook states that the throw-in officially starts when the inbounding player first has control of the ball.
During the game, "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," Gerald Boudreaux, SEC Coordinator of Men's Basketball Officials, said in a press release after the game.
The officials declined comment to a pool reporter after the game.
"I didn't see all the stuff," UK coach John Calipari said after the game. "Everybody was saying something. I just know when that ball was handed (in) we had five guys on court."
LSU coach Johnny Jones thought he saw something different, saying that "it looked like" UK had six players on the court when the Tigers inbounded the ball.
"I thought that was what was going on," Jones said. "I wasn't sure and we just wanted to ask the refs if there was anyway possible (to review). I thought the back ref had an opportunity to see. They were trying to get off the floor at the time that I thought the ball was in play but it didn't happen. We'd had ample opportunities prior to that to make some plays so I don't think that was the game-changer there."
The SEC did not specify whether or not the play was reviewable in its release. Boudreaux said he would "personally address" the issue of the officials leaving Rupp Arena without having made a statement about the play.
Calipari said the confusion came when the team broke the huddle before the play. Usually the five players line up, in order of their position, so it's easier to tell if there is any one position is doubled up.
Whatever happened, it momentarily slipped through the cracks.
"I think we got sloppy in that timeout," Calipari said. "And I got my staff (together) after the game and said, 'You need to be responsible for that.' So that may have happened, but again, he was off the court (in time)."