The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Assistant coach says refs ‘cheated’ Cleveland State in loss at Kentucky

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Kentucky needed a game-ending 24-7 run to beat Cleveland State (USATSI)

The frustration of a few unfavorable late second-half calls apparently had not yet subsided when Cleveland State assistant Jermaine Kimbrough signed onto Twitter a few hours after Monday night's game at Kentucky ended.

As a result, Kimbrough sent out a flurry of angry tweets blaming referees for helping the Wildcats erase a 10-point deficit in the game's final seven minutes and escape with a 68-61 victory. Kimbrough deleted the tweets within an hour of publishing them and later deleted his Twitter account altogether but not before screen shots spread via social media.

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Kimbrough's decision to air his emotions publicly on Twitter is one he'll likely regret by morning -- if not sooner. Whereas a player who lashes out at referees on social media just looks immature, a seventh-year assistant coach who does the same comes across as flat-out unprofessional.

Nonetheless, it's easy to see why Cleveland State's staff might believe it suffered from an unfriendly whistle.

Kentucky shot 11 free throws in the final seven minutes compared to just two for Cleveland State. The Vikings also lost starting forward Anton Grady with just over two minutes left in a tie game when he picked up his fourth foul on a double technical and his fifth for hooking his defender in the post.

Cleveland State coach Gary Waters had a chance to sound off about the officiating after the game, but he took the high road in his news conference, responding to a question about the calls that didn't go his way, "You don't want to get into that comment."

Kentucky wouldn't have needed any calls in its favor had it played better during the first 30 minutes of Monday's game. Julius Randle struggled recognizing the double team and turned the ball over too often, perimeter jump shots from James Young or the Harrison twins weren't falling and Cleveland State's smaller, quicker guards were lighting up the Wildcats off the dribble.

Everything changed at the onset of a 24-7 game-ending Kentucky run when the Wildcats finally began sinking some shots that hadn't fallen earlier. In particular, center Willie Cauley-Stein and both Harrisons made some key buckets to key the surge.

Cleveland State received a polite ovation from the Rupp Arena crowd as it left the floor because its effort was so impressive. You can bet Kimbrough's reception won't be quite so cordial now if he ever returns for a future game.

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