There's no doubt referees missed a blatant shot clock violation that should have nullified Kentucky's final basket in its 60-58 victory over Vanderbilt on Thursday night.
The more pressing question is why ESPN analyst Bob Knight had such a difficult time deciphering what happened on the play and explaining it to a TV audience.
When TV replays showed Nerlens Noel's basket with 17.3 seconds left in the game didn't leave his hands before the shot clock expired, play-by-play announcer Rece Davis gave Knight the chance to explain what the referees missed. Oddly enough, Knight, 72, was unable to do so until Davis talked him through the difference between the shot clock and game clock.
Knight: "That 17.3 was up there and the zero was on the bottom. I don't know what that meant."
Davis: "The zero was the shot clock.
Knight: "What was the 17.3?"
Davis: "Game clock. What was remaining in the half."
Anyone who has done live radio or TV has a story about forgetting a person's name or the pronunciation of a name, but this was well beyond the norm. Hopefully it was merely temporary brain lock and nothing more medically serious that made a man who has won three national championships and over 900 college basketball games forget how to tell the shot clock and game clock apart.
What magnified the significance of the moment was the refereeing gaffe's role in helping Kentucky escape with a road win.
The 3-pointer Kedren Johnson hit with 7.6 seconds left would have tied the score at 58 were it not for the mistake by the referees. Instead it only pulled Vandy within 60-58 and Kentucky was able to survive when Johnson missed another 3-pointer at the buzzer after Kyle Fuller stole the ensuing inbound pass.
Kentucky won the rematch of last year's SEC title game despite surrendering an 18-0 second-half spurt that enabled Vanderbilt to transform a 47-31 deficit into a brief 49-47 lead.
Johnson led the Vanderbilt comeback with 18 points and six assists. Ryan Harrow helped Kentucky regroup, scoring 16 points, dishing out four assists and sinking the 3-pointer that erased the Wildcats' lone second-half deficit.
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