COLUMN: An oddity per half of basketball against the Delta Devils

Gordon Hayward could very well have been weeping somewhere Saturday night because Brandon Knight showed that a successful halfcourt heave was no big deal (because really, who hasn’t drained a long three?).

Granted, the stakes were a bit higher for Hayward, the former Butler Bulldog now with the NBA’s Utah Jazz, who came within an inch of winning a national championship last April against Duke on a last-second halfcourt shot. On the other hand, Knight, UK’s freshman point guard, sank a 3-pointer from behind halfcourt as time expired in the first half of UK’s 85-60 rout of the one-win Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils.

It didn’t mean much in terms of the outcome of the game, but it was spectacular nonetheless.

“It felt good and it looked on line so I assumed it was going in,” said Knight, who kissed his hand and cooly walked off the court after banking the 3-pointer in off the backboard.

“I usually just try to swish it, but that one went off the backboard,” he said. No biggie.

Knight said that he and his teammates practice chucking up halfcourt shots during shootarounds but his teammate, junior guard DeAndre Liggins, said he “ain’t never seen him make that shot.”

Liggins joked that he would only be able to make that shot if “was a little bit lucky like (Brandon) was.”

Well, everyone in attendance could go home happy knowing that they were lucky enough to have witnessed a rare basketball feat, right? Wrong.

Smart money would have been on Knight’s miracle shot as the highlight of the night, but the second half brought another memorable moment.

UK head coach John Calipari was ejected by referee Mike Stuart after picking up two quick technical fouls, the second of which came with his team leading by 26 points.

Stuart has assessed 12 technicals in the 26 games he’s officiated this year and Delta Devils head coach Sean Woods said he was “in the same ref’s behind,” too.

In hindsight, the ejection wasn’t so bad as it allowed Calipari some time to recover from when his face turned bright red when he got in Stuart’s grill at the scorer’s table after he was assessed his second technical.

“I took my coat off, put my feet up, had a little drink of water, and said ‘This isn’t so bad,’” Calipari joked. “I didn’t put it on TV until the last two minutes.”

Calipari’s players already said they know that their coach getting tossed will be a source of entertainment tonight…as long as their coach isn’t around.

“We all laugh about it to each other, but not to him,” freshman guard Doron Lamb said. “I was going to calm him down but I didn’t want to get in his way while he’s angry.”

The ejection also serves as an important (cough, cough) learning moment.

“I was going to ask him, do (college coaches) get fined?” Liggins said. Good question. If he could do it all over again, Calipari probably wouldn’t mind cutting a check…if he had to.

Heck, considering the game’s 8:00 p.m. start time during this most festive time of year when everyone has been filling up on egg nog and is dangerously close to succombing to napping at any moment, Knight’s three and Calipari’s ejection spiced up the first of three ho-hum games for UK—settle down everyone, Winthrop and Coppin State are next in line—and were much more interesting than the basketball being played.

Most fans simply would have been bored to tears without an oddity per half of basketball on Saturday.