Fouls & Free Throws: Beware of the Referee’s Whistle at Rupp

Posted on Dec 26 2013 - 9:31am by Ethan Moore

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Photo – USA TODAY

Whenever we get together with our buddies watching games or talking sports in general, one subject is always sure to come up – officiating.  Most of the time when it’s brought up in conversation it’s an excuse.  Rarely it can be a cause that decides an outcome of the game.  On Saturday, all three referees – Tony Greene, Doug Sirmons, and Mark Whitehead – working the game in Lexington called a game in the 2013 Final Four.  Greene made the controversial call on Trey Burke’s block of Siva in the closing minutes of the second half of the national championship. As far as Rupp Arena is concerned, you know that UK always has a decided home court advantage.  Generally, talent decides ball games, not the refs, but in this rivalry game, it’s an aspect that should be discussed as well. If the first reason of Rupp’s home court advantage is UK’s talent, a close second is the friendly whistle.  Sure every home team gets a call or two; it’s simply a part of the game.  However, at ‘CoRuppt’ Arena, it’s a totally different ball game.  Let’s take a look at the numbers….

To date, UK has shot 288 free throws in 8 home games, an average of 36 per game.  UK’s opponents have attempted just 129, an average of 16.  Playing Devil’s Advocate, one could say that UK’s opponents don’t bang inside enough or as much as the Cats do, thus not as many fouls were called.  But still, the 20-shot disparity is nothing to ignore and leads to the constant criticism that opposing teams don’t get a fair whistle. What’s more, UK gets called for an average of 17 fouls per game; their opponents are whistled for 27.

UofL gets its fair share of the calls in their favor at the Yum! Center as well.  Through UofL’s nine home games, the Cards have shot 237 foul shots, an average of 26 per game.  Louisville’s opponents?  They have shot an average of 15.5 (140 total) per gameLouisville sees an average of 10.5 free throws more than their opponent. However, there has been one game where the visitor got to the charity stripe more the Cards as Western Kentucky shot four more foul shots. As UofL fans, we know that the shot disparity got even slimmer once Big East play started.  From the numbers alone, you can see that UK gets a robust 20-foul shot attempt advantage from their opponent, where as UofL’s is just 8.5.  UofL is whistled for 17 fouls per game while their opponents are called for 20.5.  Again, the difference at Rupp is worth mentioning.

For reference, last year’s game saw both teams called for 21 fouls apiece.  The Cards shot 25 free throws, the Cats 23.

The next time a Cayut fan tries to downplay their home court, uh, home cooking advantage, show ’em these numbers.

Go Cards.

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  1. Guest December 26, 2013 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    U of L: 26 foul shots per game.

    Opponents: 15.5 foul shots per game.

    Difference: 10.5 shots, not 8.5.

    An additional factor regarding Rupp advantage being even more egregious in the Cal era is UK's reliance on freshman starters since freshman typically will foul more due to less experience and adjustment to college level competition.

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  2. Guest December 27, 2013 at 1:12 am - Reply

    It's really unseemly the how much of an advantage Kentucky has had at home with the officials, especially versus Louisville since Calipari has been UK's coach.

    I'm not a big conspiracy guy, but when I look at what's gone down at Rupp – and factor in Calipari's shady past with the NCAA, his ties to Worldwide Wes and his longtime obsession and disdain for Pitino, I can't help but wonder if the ol' fix hasn't been on with the referees.

    Just look at the 2011-12 game versus Kentucky at Rupp. Kentucky was the best team in the country that season, and it was the best team in the tournament. But after recently re-watching the regular season match-up of the Cards and Cats, I'm convinced we were the the better team that day, on December 31, 2011.

    The most startling turn of events in that game was what happened with Gorgui Dieng, who entered the second half with ONE foul, and picked up THREE fouls in a span of 2:20 to head the bench with 16:08 left – looking deeper into exactly how and what went down in regards to Dieng's four fouls is sure to make any objective fan of college basketball do a double-take.

    I think Dieng caught Calipari and Kentucky by surprise in the first half. He played 19 minutes, blocked three shots, scored a couple of points and grabbed four rebounds. UK's Anthony Davis picked up two first-half fouls, played seven minutes, had one block and scored zero points. He was a non-factor in the first half of that game. (At the break, Kentucky held a three-point lead, 36-33.)

    Davis was also a non-factor early in the second half of that game, as well – until the referees curiously seemed to decide to take Dieng out of the game. Dieng swatted another shot early in the second half, and about 30 seconds later he was whistled for his second personal. Jump ahead to 17:34 left in the game…Davis had YET TO SCORE, and yep, you guessed it – Gorgui gets whistled for his third personal foul. Jump ahead to 16:22 left in the game…the Cards cut UK's lead to three, the Cats are up 38-35 and Gorgui STEALS a pass in the press, and you guessed it…less than 20 seconds later, he is whistled for his fourth personal foul.

    Perhaps the most curious thing to unfold was Calipari getting called for a technical foul SECONDs after Gorgui picked up his fourth personal, when Kentucky HAD the ball. This is when my bullshit/conspiracy detector went off. Who gets called for a technical (arguing a non-call) when his team has the ball? I submit this was a 'diversionary' technical drawn by Calipari to take help lessen the stink from the three fouls Dieng picked up in a span of two minutes and 20 seconds.

    So here's your rundown:
    Anthony Davis didn't score a POINT when Gorgui was in the game.
    Louisville TIED the game at 40 all shortly after Gorgui exited.
    With Gorgui on the bench, Davis scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds.
    Gorgui sat from the 16:08 mark of the second half to the 9:54 mark of the second half, and in that span, UK jumped ahead 49-42, a seven point lead, and UK ended up winning by seven points.

    Not only did losing Gorgui give Kentucky the lead it needed to win, Gorgui simply wasn't able to play aggressive defense the remainder of the game with four fouls – that said, the the Cards still played Kentucky even after he checked back in and Gorgui didn't foul out.

    Dieng finished the game with six blocked shots, and he altered dozens more. Most important, he negated Davis on the floor that afternoon.

    Watch the replay if you get a chance. It's on YouTube. In regards to Gorgui's three fouls in two minutes – all of the whistles were very late. His third personal and fourth personal were highly questionable. A UK player tripped over his foot and Dieng was called for a moving screen, after a late whistle, with Calipari in the ref's ear. His fourth foul, an over-the-back which wasn't an over-the-back, was another very late whistle.

    Kentucky shot 43 free throws to Louisville's 27 attempts that day. Louisville was rung up for 29 fouls.
    If you don't think Kentucky gets calls in Rupp Arena, I'd advise to look a little closer.

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  3. BKD December 27, 2013 at 7:50 am - Reply

    What is the point of your article? You took the time analyze a useless stat from your opponent and then wrote a story that looks to have been written by a bitter/angry 16 yr old?
    Try to be a little more professional and maybe someone (anyone) will start to read what you’re producing or at least respond to your post.

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  4. Bman December 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Crying douche babies! This is the most pointless article. As a non biased fan who loves basketball, this points out how whiny some fans can be, along with not knowing the team they are writing articles for. Louisville is a team that pressed the entire game and plays very aggressive defense and has a coach with aggressive substituting patterns. Before the game even started I could have told you that Lou would have more fouls called bc that's the way they play defense. I'm pointing what should be obvious to anyone who has watched ul play this yr (or any other pitino coached team). This is also without pointing out the late intentional fouls and the new rules put in place. Of course ul will foul more…..Duh!

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