Heartbreak Punctuates Humphries' Big Game
Isaac Humphries had just made the biggest play and worst mistake of his college career in the span of a few seconds.
The only thing he could think to do was apologize.
“He’s still in the locker room saying sorry,” Tyler Ulis said.
At the end of overtime in a tooth-and-nail battle with Texas A&M, Humphries contested a shot by Anthony Collins, snared the rebound with nine seconds left and was fouled immediately. Jubilant, Humphries slammed the ball to the floor, drawing a technical foul – his fifth of the game.
“When he got it, we all were just so excited and came, ran to him,” Ulis said. “He was excited as well. He started to throw it, tried to (stop) and it came out of his hands.”
In one fateful moment, Humphries went from taking a trip to the free-throw line for two shots with a chance to pad a one-point UK lead to fouled out on the bench, watching helplessly as Danuel House buried two free throws, Skal Labissiere hit one of two in Humphries’ place and A&M’s Tyler Davis made a buzzer-beating tip-in to send UK to a 79-77 defeat.
“Our kids fought,” John Calipari said. “I was proud of them. So did Texas A&M, they fought. That was a heck of a basketball game. Just the play at the very end there that kind of sullied up the game, that’s what it did.”
Sullied up the game and left Humphries feeling like he had let down his team and its fans.
“I will learn from this #BBN,” Humphries tweeted.
Coach Cal will surely use Humphries’ technical as a teaching moment, but he was unwilling to put any blame on his true freshman big man.
“He was celebrating,” Calipari said. “He was so happy. There was no disrespect to anybody. There was nothing. So, if that’s what they choose to call, what are you going to do? You can be mad or whatever, but I’m not mad at that kid. You kidding me? Great kid.”
Humphries’ teammates were singing the same tune.
“We didn’t really care, honestly,” said Jamal Murray, who had 21 points. “He put his heart and soul into that game, he fought for every ball. He made shots, made free throws.”
Humphries, perhaps only intensifying the heartbreak, had his best college performance before his game-turning technical foul. With Alex Poythress again missing from the lineup, Derek Willis going down with a sprained ankle and Marcus Lee battling foul trouble, Humphries was indispensable in the post.
He responded with six points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and a brand of toughness that nearly paved the way for a road win in the face of incredible adversity.
“He kept saying ‘sorry,’ but I just told him, ‘There’s nothing to be sorry about,' " Ulis said. " 'Disregard it, go make these free throws and they still gotta come down and score.’ They came down and scored. We can’t blame this on Isaac at all. Isaac came in and did a great job and I told him multiple times there’s nothing to be sorry about.”
Besides, Humphries is too important to his team to keep his head down.