As Evansville‘s K.J. Riley and his teammates rode the bus again to campus following Tuesday night’s 67-64 upset of No. 1 Kentucky in Lexington, coach Walter McCarty instructed his energized crew to cool down as a result of Charles Barkley needed to congratulate it.
He put the TNT analyst and Corridor of Famer on speakerphone.
“I didn’t even know he knew Charles Barkley,” mentioned Riley, who led all scorers with 18 factors. “He congratulated us and he told us that the hard work is paying off.”
General, McCarty mentioned he had 400 congratulatory textual content messages ready for him after Tuesday’s win, which was tied for the third-largest upset in faculty basketball during the last 15 seasons (Evansville was a 25-point underdog), per ESPN Stats & Info.
Rick Pitino, McCarty’s coach when Kentucky received the nationwide title in 1996, reached out. Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, McCarty’s teammate when he performed for the New York Knicks throughout the 1996-97 season, texted him to reward his crew, too. Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan, an assistant when McCarty was at Kentucky, additionally contacted him after the victory.
Sam Cunliffe‘s two free throws with 6.eight seconds to play sealed the win for Evansville as Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey missed a deep 3-pointer on the buzzer to tie the sport. Kentucky made simply 37 % of its area aim makes an attempt and dedicated 11 turnovers within the first half.
Kentucky had beforehand received 52 consecutive house video games in opposition to unranked opponents. Evansville, picked to complete eighth within the Missouri Valley Convention preseason ballot, completed 11-21 general and 5-13 throughout the 2018-19 marketing campaign, McCarty’s first because the crew’s head coach.
It was this system’s first victory over a No. 1 crew.
ESPN’s BPI gave Evansville a four % probability to win.
McCarty mentioned his crew’s expertise fueled the win. He mentioned he instructed his crew that it might win at Kentucky, the place he received a large number of video games as a participant, if it stood robust within the opening minutes and refused to permit the group to grow to be an element.
“They were not going to get rattled,” he mentioned. “They weren’t afraid. Nothing against Kentucky, but they’re young. It feels good that people are paying attention to us.”
Once they returned to campus, the Purple Aces have been greeted by tons of of scholars. Riley mentioned he did not get to mattress till 2 a.m. He was additionally inundated with texts. One particularly stunned him.
“It was from a Kentucky fan,” Riley mentioned. “He said, ‘I’m a Kentucky fan but you’re my favorite player now.'”