POSTGAME UPDATE: Kentucky coach John Calipari after the game, when asked to address Malik Monk’s throat-slash gesture toward the Arkansas bench in the final minutes, said, “There was some back and forth with the coach prior to the game.”
Monk also acknowledged that he heard the Razorbacks staffer during warm-ups: “I don’t remember what he said. He’s saying stuff before the game. We were warming up, and they were talking and talking. It’s Arkansas. I don’t know. I made a 3, emotions took over, made a little (gesture) like the game was over. I mean, I just got to learn from that.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An Arkansas basketball staffer might’ve just made a big mistake.
When Kentucky came out to warm up for the SEC Tournament championship game on Sunday against the Razorbacks, a man in a suit, wearing a Hogs lapel pin and credential, started chattering at Wildcats star Malik Monk.
“We’re in the same place as him, and he had to go to Kentucky to get here!” the man yelped. After Monk missed a shot, the man shouted directly to him: “Off to the left today!”
Monk heard him and responded.
“I got something for you,” he said.
But who was this man? The credential identified him as Matt Zimmerman, Arkansas’ director of basketball operations. When he realized a Kentucky reporter was raising his eyebrows at the exchange with Monk, Zimmerman attempted to explain.
“We go back a long way,” he said. “He’s a good kid.”
A good kid from Lepanto, Ark., who no doubt will try to demolish his home-state team on Sunday afternoon — especially now. The Razorbacks recruited Monk, whose older brother was a two-sport star for them, for years.
So what’s your predicted point total for All-American Monk, the SEC Player of the Year, in the league title game Sunday?