Heading into their Sweet 16 matchup with Kansas State on Thursday night, the general consensus was that Kentucky was going to be able to work their way to the Final Four this weekend without much resistance. The Wildcats would be able to get by K-State and then beat the winner of the Nevada/Loyola-Chicago matchup to make it to the NCAA Tournament semifinals next weekend. But unfortunately for Big Blue Nation, that isn’t how things ultimately worked out for John Calipari & Co.
Kansas State stunned Kentucky 61-58 to advance to the Elite 8 on Thursday. They took advantage of some sloppy offensive play on the part of Kentucky to beat them for the first time ever. And after the game, several Kansas State players accused Kentucky players of not sticking around long enough to shake hands after the game. Junior guard Amaad Wainright was especially upset about what happened when reporters caught up with him in the Wildcats' locker room.
"They didn’t shake our hands," Wainright said. "It’s sorry…They know what they did."
Wainright went on to say he was looking forward to shaking Calipari’s hand. But when he tried to track him down, Calipari had apparently already left the court.
"It’s all about respect," Wainright said. "That’s what it should have been—all about respect."
Wainright’s teammate Levi Stockard III was also upset about Kentucky making a break for it without shaking hands. He said it felt like an intentional act on the part of the Kentucky players.
"That’s not the sportsmanship you like to see, but that’s them," Stockard said. "They just walked off the court. I don’t know what it was. I don’t know."
Calipari defended his actions and the actions of his players. He acknowledged leaving the court without shaking the hands of the Kansas State players, but he said he had a good reason for doing it.
"They were turned and celebrating, so I walked off," Calipari said. "There was no disrespect for anything. It’s just that they were celebrating, and I was happy for them…My team’s not like that. There’s no disrespect in any way. They beat us. They deserved to win the game."
This isn’t the first time one of Calipari’s teams has been accused of refusing to shake opposing players’ hands after losing an NCAA Tournament game. The 2014-15 Kentucky team, which included Willie Cauley-Stein and Aaron and Andrew Harrison, was also publicly criticized after refusing to shake the hands of Wisconsin players following a Final Four loss.
Kansas State will play Loyola-Chicago on Saturday for a chance to make a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio.