NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Moses Kingsley became enemy No. 1 of the college basketball world with 1:02 remaining in Arkansas’ SEC Tournament championship game loss to Kentucky on Sunday afternoon.
A chippy contest turned into a dangerous one when Kingsley — 6-foot-10, 210 pounds — slammed into Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox and sent him to the floor, hard. Players on both teams traded words and menacing glares before referees restored order, and Kingsley was ejected after a video review.
ESPN commentator Dick Vitale was swift in his assessment.
“There’s no place for that,” he said. “You lose, you lose like a man. There’s no place for that, none whatsoever. For those out there watching, that doesn’t make you a man, that makes you a mouse.”
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 12, 2017
After the game, Kingsley said he was not trying to hurt Fox, but admitted he purposely initiated the contact and “it looked bad.”
The preseason SEC Player of the Year noticed that Fox was preparing to throw a lob to Kentucky center Bam Adebayo. Kingsley didn’t want the Kentucky crowd to emit another deafening roar, so he did what he could to halt the play.
“I feel like it was the heat of the moment,” Kingsley said. “He was going to lob it (to Adebayo), so I tried to stop that. Because I knew if he lobbed it, my teammates already got beat … I had to stop it, but I feel like I followed through, too. It was bad. It looked bad.
“He was going to throw it, and it was going to go loud. I didn’t want it to go loud like that, so I tried to stop him.”
Kingsley added that he “lost his cool” and he was “responsible” for the incident. Coach Mike Anderson didn’t seem too worried about it post-game.
“Sometimes the temperament gets out of hand,” Anderson said. “It was unfortunate, but at the same time, I don’t think anybody was intent on trying to hurt anybody.”
Junior guard Daryl Macon was disappointed with the spectacle.
“What you saw at the end; that wasn’t us,” he said. “We kind of lost our composure. We’ve got to get back in the lab and rebuild.”
Tensions appeared to be high after Kentucky guard Malik Monk — he who turned down Arkansas to attend UK — made at least one throat-slashing gesture toward the Razorbacks’ bench in the first half. Anderson said he didn’t see it, while Macon said “that had nothing to do with” the end-of-game altercation.
Kingsley was penitent, but not shocked at what transpired Sunday.
“It’s always like that whenever we play Kentucky,” he said. “I’ve been here 4 years. Anybody can say it’s not, but I’ve been here 4 years. I’ve experienced it. I’ve played them seven times now, so it’s always like that.”